a woman in a leather trench coat holding and pointing at a placard

I guess all of us have experienced being pumped, hyped, and confident to complete a jigsaw puzzle in no time however when I start to pick one piece we utter to ourselves, “why is this so difficult to finish?”. Sounds familiar?

If you read my article about the best way to start a jigsaw puzzle from a beginner’s experience, you’ll see how I struggled with that first-hand and may reminisce the past on how you’re the same with me one way or the other.

How do you solve a difficult jigsaw puzzle?

If you’re trying to solve a difficult jigsaw puzzle you’ll need an organized thought-process and mental preparedness because, without it, you’ll end up being tired, bored, and irritated for the fact that a “simple” game is not simple after all.

Here are the things you need to learn to solve a difficult jigsaw puzzle:

1. Mental preparedness

You should make it known to yourself that you’ll need to face some “challenges” along the way before you complete the puzzle. Being in full awareness that you’re up to the game will brief your mind that everything you’ll experience during your playtime are necessary.

It may sound over-the-top but it’s true based on my experience.

In fact, I made some small self-talk in the first parts of the puzzle I’m making before. I’m having a dialogue with my inner self to convince myself that it’s all part of my puzzle journey, that I need to accept it because there’s no other way to do it after all.

And that’s where my eureka moment came into the picture.

I just accepted the fact that it’s just how it is. I just enjoy doing it one piece at a time.

2. Choose an appropriate working station

Your working station should be able to fit the whole size of your jigsaw puzzle once you’ve finished it. There should be a space for your sorting, assembling, storage, and your sitting area. It doesn’t have to be big as long as you could play there comfortably, it would be fine.

Aside from the things I’ve mentioned above, also try to consider the chair, light, and ventilation of the area you’ll work on. This may seem unnecessary, but trust me Puzzlers, these 3 things are your major factors on how long you could stand finishing your game.

You’ll be doing your puzzles with your body for hours. Your hands, eyes, neck, and lower back will mostly be used in this game. So you better be sure to give those body parts some assistance using a good chair, light, and proper room air ventilation.

3. Sort jigsaw puzzle pieces

Sorting is the most tedious part of playing jigsaw puzzles. You need to make time to arrange them accordingly. I recommend that you sort your puzzle according to the letters they have back so you won’t mix things up.

This step is mostly the major turning point of new Puzzlers because it’s the most boring and time-consuming part of all.

Well we can’t change that fact, right? Might as well, we should change our mindset instead.

What I’m saying is that, we can use this time to have a chit-chat with our friends, or have some meditation or self-reflection about our lives if we play alone.

It’s like hitting two birds with one stone, aside from completing your puzzle, you’re also reconnecting relationships with yourself or with others.

4. Begin with clusters

Choose any cluster of jigsaw puzzle you’ve sorted already. It doesn’t matter if you start on top, middle, or bottom of it as long as they’re all in the same cluster. This is the best strategy I use to start with my own puzzle and it makes things easy and organize.

Some may say otherwise but in reality, I guess this is far most the easiest way to finish it.

Doing it with clusters will give you an assurance that you won’t mix a piece of it in another area where it seems to fit in perfectly. Also, this strategy will already give you a heads up if you have a missing piece somewhere in your stack pile of a jigsaw puzzle.

5. Assemble corners and edges

Whatever cluster of jigsaw puzzles you choose to start with, always assemble their corners or edges first. This will save you a lot of time and effort because it’s predictably easy to locate the next piece after the other.

Corner or edge pieces give you an outline of the cluster you’re completing. In this way, you can only focus on one designated area and limiting your full attention and energy to that.

6. Connect completed clusters

This is the final step where your serotonin will be at its peak.

Once you’ve completed all the clusters individually, you can now connect them to one another to create the whole image. It’s easier to do because you already have a larger piece of your puzzle. Just make sure that you securely fit them so they won’t detach as you lift.

You may use tape or puzzle glue as you finish each cluster to secure them permanently. That is if you won’t be playing it again in the future.

7. Patience

Jigsaw puzzling is a process. You can’t jump from one piece to another to make things faster. While others may seem to that, but it’s not efficient based on my experience.

Patience is essential in completing a puzzle. Each step is the product of the time you’ve invested to make that decision. Do things slowly but surely. What’s the essence of doing it in a hurry when you’ll end up in trial and error anyway? One way or the other, you’ll still end up finishing it, if you stick to it.

It’s the journey that counts not the destination, they say.

8. Break time

Having time to rest is not a wasted time. In fact, this step is essential to recharge your thinking brain. It’s like a computer reboot where it stops all unnecessary programs that are running in our brain. When we rest, we can think of other creative ways on how to go about our puzzle without feeling drained.  

We’re humans, we’re not robots. If you’re tired of playing, then stop and rest. There’s no deadline in finishing it anyway. It’s our freedom to how much time we wanted to spend on it.

9. Use jigsaw puzzle accessories

Jigsaw puzzle accessories also help your puzzling experience light and easy. Here are my recommended tools that you should try.

Puzzle sorter

Puzzle table


Solving a jigsaw puzzle should be light, easy, and enjoyable. It will only be ‘difficult” if we only choose to see the difficult steps in completing one. In the end, no matter what puzzle you choose, how many pieces are there, how complicated the cuts and image, and how much time you spent on it, you’ll finish it anyway.

It must be the journey and experience you’ll look after not the destination. Do you agree? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


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