I’m a recovering Sortophobe. [Editorial]

I have always been the first one to admit that I have an intense fear of sorting LEGO elements. Spiders? Confined spaces? Heights? HA! I laugh in their faces!! But you set a big ol’ pile of random ABS in front of me with some empty drawer units and I start to hyperventilate, my palms start sweating and I get all twitchy.

Well, ok maybe I am just a lazy procrastinator who would rather play with LEGO than organize it, but I am still going to play the sortophobia card.

But there is light at the end of this cluttered tunnel…yesterday I took my first steps on the road to my sorted recovery. But before I get into that, I will give you a bit of a background.

When my wife and I moved into our house, I attempted for the first time to sort my LEGO. But like the rookie that I was I made a crucial mistake and sorted my entire collection by colour. It was hard enough to find a yellow headlight brick in a giant bin of bricks, let alone trying to find one in the bottom of a drawer that only contained yellow elements. So basically my three or four weeks of sorting were wasted and I started re-sorting it all into part type to better fit my style of building. Well that was 8 years ago and I haven’t really stopped sorting since. I would say that about 2 years ago I was approximately 85-90% fully sorted and organized. And I have been on a steady decline since.

Fast forward to 2013 and things got really bad. I hit my rock bottom. Readers may remember my AFOL’s guide to having a newborn. In particular point #1. I have learned over the preceding 10 months, that #1 is #1 for a very good reason! I didn’t really slow down the level of production of my builds, but my efficiency with build time had certainly been affected. Then I just became really lazy and made zero effort to stay organized. My LEGO collection basically became an un-useable mess of cluttered drawers and overflowing shelves. It took ages to build a simple model and believe it or not, it even started to take the fun out of building.

Well 2014 is a new year, and I intend to get my butt organized! Not only to increase the ease of building, but also for my wife’s sanity. We now have three, going on 4, LEGO maniacs in our house and I can only see this getting worse if I don’t nip it in the bud now. So that is where my steps on the road to recovery come in. What were they you ask? Simple. I dumped everything into a big ass tub.

And I have to say, it felt really good to do that. For the first time in 8 years, I am actually looking forward to sorting. It’s a brand new year and my future is looking bright and organized!

26.5 kg (58.5 lbs.) of un-sorted LEGO never looked so good!

2014 - Year of the Big Sort [Day 1]

13 comments on “I’m a recovering Sortophobe. [Editorial]

  1. Fred

    There is a flip side to this curse… I love to sort. I relax by sorting. I buy 20 pounds from ebay and sort….
    I buy a wonderful new set at the local lego store and… I don’t build it. I sort. I have been sorting for perhaps 8 years now. I look at my work and think.. would this section of the collection work better if it were by color?

    Then I needed a bigger house. I ripped out a room in the basement, dug it deeper, built special shelving and a rolling wall. I worked on the lighting plan and the right kind of floor.

    But, I can’t build. I can’t stop and really enjoy the creative process. Frankly sorted lego makes it harder until you need quick access for certain parts. you need a pile do sift through and coax ideas from.

    Be careful of the sorting trap. Building is far more important. don’t be me.


  2. 4estFeller

    Yeah I actually really enjoy sorting, like Fred said it’s very relaxing. Sometimes I enjoy it more than building!

  3. dodge

    Fred, your rolling wall is a beautiful thing.

    I used to like sorting a whole bunch, but it was back when my collection was smaller and more basically organized. I would put my buckets all around me, sit on a chair with the MOC I was about to dismember, and throw the bricks all over the place. I would cheer if I made a far shot into a bucket and grumble when it bounced off the side into a neighbouring colour.

    Nowadays, I’ve compartmentalized enough to find it daunting. I don’t worry as much when I’m piecing out a new set, but when I take a whole lot apart at once, and there’s a pile staring at me… boo-urns. I keep trying to set aside a month and get it all done, but something else comes up: a fighter, a vignette, LUG layout, SHIPtember… you know the drill.

    Currently, I’m shooting for April. We’ll see what happens.

  4. Erik_Boy

    yaeh i came home from college for winter vacation, looked at my unsorted collection, did not even think about sorting.

    maybe another day.

  5. Sixpax

    I’m more a collector than a MOC at the moment (soon to change). In January 2011 my house (South east Queensland) was flooded.
    That was bad. The Lego survived, but the cleaning process was where I went wrong. Instead of cleaning by set, it was more a case of pull everything apart, throw it together, wash it and worry about it after the bigger things like the house were sorted.
    5kg of Lego is easy, hell, you can build without even needing to sort. When there is 120Kg, of some 240 sets, I’m still sorting.

    I hate sorting now, I want to get back to reassembling my sets, but I need to finish this. I know there are parts broken, and I assume there are parts missing and I want to be able to get to the point of knowing what’s where and ordering the missing and finish.

    There’s been several steps to the sorting, first by colour (just to start some where) and then that was broken down to piece. From set inventory, it was then a case of parting to sets, which is easier before you start worrying about stickered pieces. It was then a check on this first sort, and couldn’t believe how many pieces I managed to double up on (I blame a lack of space and crowded containers). Excel is now my friend, I have a sheet for each set, and now working through the list to find homes for the pieces I missed.

    The end is in sight, but damn I’m over it. The different variety of greys! Which under some light look the same! Hate that! Which is probably the reason that grey is the last colour I’ll have to do…well, once I finish white.

  6. Brickwright

    Apparently I’m not the only one who has a 6210 Sail Barge in their sort bin.

    I do like seeing bins get full of parts or seeing specific pieces from display models freed up for builds, but is it ever tedious.

  7. stevesnas

    Ha, I’ve been in the same predicament.

    Since end of summer last year I’ve had this big tub full of bricks looking at me every time I went into the spare room. I had used nearly every interesting/useful brick I had in a big MOC for Steam (UK) and at the end of that just dumped it all in a box.

    It put me off building completely, and both my kids had been sleeping badly so never felt the time to tackle it.

    Took me 2 and half weeks to sort it all (new years resolution) and now finally feel like building again.

  8. 8yn815

    I really enjoy sorting. I have 9 mindstorms sets, several technic flagships and regular Lego… All pretty well sorted!

  9. jtooker

    I too find sorting comforting, but had been neglecting it. Up until recently, most of my Lego was sorted by color – which wasn’t awful, but not nice either.

    Lately I’ve been working on this sorting scheme. It is a work in progress, but it seem like a manageable balance. I haven’t had time to use it much, though.

  10. hipp5

    I enjoy sorting, it’s relaxing. I was also careful to establish a very functional and expandable sorting system when I exited my Dark Ages, so that’s meant I’ve never felt overwhelmed by the prospect of sorting. I do my sorting in small spurts so it doesn’t get tedious. I also sort everything into piles that correspond to my categories first, rather than putting them directly into their drawers, because that saves a whole lot of physical movement.

    In retrospect I do wish I had gone down a slightly different road in terms of the storage product I used because the one I chose is somewhat expensive and I’m wedded to it now, but it does work for me.

    The biggest tip I can give (as Tromas has discovered) is to stay the hell away from sorting by colour. Your eyes are much, much better at differentiating red from blue (or even dark bley from light bley) than they are at differentiating a 1×6 plate from a 1×8 plate.

    My second tip is to buy a label maker. You can get them on sale for $20. It sure saves a lot of searching for the right drawer.

  11. JonDM

    I’m like Fred in that I also love sorting and find it relaxing. I tend to sort by broad categories, which go into gallon hefty bags initially, then I sort those bags into the smaller sub-categories or by piece types which are then placed into the main collection. I also have to agree that uber sorted lego doesn’t lend itself to the creative process, but it does make it easier to pull pieces if you already have instructions, which is what I do a lot of. I like to build an original lego set, then modify, modify, modify. I have to keep unsorted Lego around for my 4yr old to play with and it really does help to coax out ideas if you don’t already have plans or ideas to work from.

  12. purf

    Yeah, sorting is just… really weird. I have a small collection which previously was sorted into Bulky+Wheels, SmallishRare+Small and TheRest. (A collection which didn’t get used a lot, really, but) one weekend I had a building craze and there it felt like I spent almost all of the time with searching – and mostly not even knowing whether I have that, say, second dkbley fender I was searching for.
    So, I started sorting. For me, a pleasant thing to do. But now:
    1) what had easily fitted in one of those (a large-ish shoebox) already needs the horizontal space of five of ’em and I don’t quite have the room to see it through to the end (the LEGO layer in above box is still about an index finger deep) without making some major changes to my whole desktop/shelf arrangement (while making it convenient for me + out of reach for a 2 1/2y old;)
    2) Altering models or, as Jon said, building by instructions has become a wonderful thing. “Oh, a different taillight configuration? (opens lid) There, done.” Starting something from scratch has become somewhat way more difficult. (2b) But then there’s LDD)

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