Ikea is a Magical Place with Dragons, Unicorns and Griffins…Not Really

How many times have you found yourself assembling furniture from places like Ikea, Pottery Barn or even the big box stores like Target or Home Depot? In the last 6 years since having kids, selling my first home and buying my second home, I can count at least 30 pieces of furniture. The list includes everything from basis shelves to baby cribs to toddler beds and even a couple of desks. In my case I would say I’m split about 10 items from Ikea, 10 from PB and 10 from Home Depot. Note: The stuff from Home Depot were the easiest to assemble as they were shelves.

So why do I bring this up? Assembling furniture is a lot like dealing with Fitness (in it’s current form). Most of the parts are fairly pre-fabricated. It’s supposed to be simple enough that you assemble most of the steps and for those steps that are not assembled you simply provide the input variables and the X-Path references.

About the Title

I was struggling to think of a catchy title to make my point. So I figured I would go with the outlandish title that made completely no sense or had no relevance. Ikea is a magical place though. My wife and I go to the one in College Park, Maryland. For the first hour of our visit we can drop our 2 daughters off at the play park while we go a cruise around the store. After an hour, we pick the kids up and get some sweet meatballs of the Swedish variety. We finish with a quick run around the lower level (household goods…things that you can pick-up with your hands). Next we hit the warehouse section and finally a soft serve ice cream on the way out. That’s only the beginning…

I’m always so amazed at how the effort to buy the furniture is really no effort at all. I hate shopping, but for some reason I find pleasure in going to Ikea. It’s like going to a world with dragons, unicorns and griffins.


The thing about Ikea is that the time is always on the back-end. I might spend 2 hours at the store, only to find myself spending 10 hours assembling some ridiculous piece of furniture. It often contains multiple boxes and parts. Well, that’s kind of how it used to be. In my wise years I’ve gotten better about assembling furniture. Back in the old days I would rip up the boxes, throw the pieces in a pile, dump all of the fasteners on the floor and if lucky scan the directions.

Now I’m more meticulous about things. I neatly open the boxes and organize the pieces of wood appropriately. I put all of the unique fastener types in their own bowls. I read the directions to understand dependencies for assembling. I don’t necessarily start at step 1 though. I look to see if I can assemble certain parts independently so that I might only have to work with 5 larger assembled pieces versus 25 little pieces assembled sequentially. Think of it like how homes are built today. Most of the parts of the home are completely prefabricated from a framing perspective. It’s simply lining the pieces up and connecting them.

So What’s My Point?

My point is this…automation is meant to be assembled. Have a strategy…have a plan.


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