8 things we can learn about problem-solving from jigsaw puzzles 🧩

🧩 1. You can’t fit a wrong piece where it doesn’t belong, even though it might look like it should. At that point, it’s best to let it go and try another piece, or you’ll just waste your time.

2. If you get stuck trying to solve a problem or trying to find the right pieces, getting agitated and pushing it won’t necessarily help. It can be better to take some time off, stop thinking about that problem too much, then come back with a cooler and clearer head to solve it again.

🖼️ 3. Sometimes, if you start to understand how the bigger picture of the puzzle works, you know exactly where to fit certain pieces when you come across them. At that point, there is no need for extensive trial and error. You just know where the piece belongs.

🪟 4. However, you may not understand the bigger picture in the beginning. So you have to start somewhere. With jigsaw puzzles, you can start making the outer frame because that’s usually the easiest step to complete. In different kinds of problems, putting together, or breaking something down to its smallest units and then putting them together, will be of more help.

5. Some problems take longer to solve. How long a problem takes to solve depends on its complexity, magnitude, and on your level of skill or experience. Some puzzles have more pieces that are demanding of your time, and some puzzles just have more complex details in their final image that can confuse you. And if you’re new, it will take longer because you don’t have enough practice or awareness of the little strategies you could be using.

🧑 6. If you get stuck, it can be more efficient to ask another person to help you put some of the pieces together. In terms of problem-solving, this would be knowing when to make the decision to use more external resources to progress towards your final goal. Having help with some pieces can also give you a boost to keep going.

🧠 7. Jigsaw puzzles can help you get into a calm, passive, reflective state of mind while you occupy your hands with something else. You can use this state to ponder over another problem to solve (or just daydream!). Sometimes problems need passive attention instead of direct attention so your mind can come up with solutions on its own. Artists and scientists tend to utilize activities like this to enter this state for better idea generation.

😡 8. Some puzzles just suck and you need to chuck them out of your window. I’m talking about this 1000 piece puzzle that I got from the dollar store. It’s the worst one I’ve tried to solve. Why? not only does this puzzle 1000pc have no unique pieces, the colours were also inaccurate. The picture was of a tulip field with a purple sky. There was no way for me to know if I was on the right track or not, or if I’d have to re-do everything after hours’ worth of work because I’d made mistakes.

So, the final lesson is to choose your battles wisely and cut your losses sometimes. Some problems are just not worth wasting your time on, and you can decide what it is that’s actually worthy of your time.


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