For most of us, we don't have the space to make room for every individual part, so we combine in some way. I combine my parts in two different ways:
With my plates, I combine colors that are distinct together - the size is easy to recognize, and color is even easier. Here, I start with 1x2 plates and go to 2 x 8 plates at the end. Larger plates are in bins under my work surface. The bottom row has my exotic colors - the ones that I probably will not use. When I need large plates or run out of a color in a drawer, I have a couple of overflow bins to search.
The bottom left drawer has all my small rounded slopes. I don't have these sorted by color either. I am not that organized:-)! I do have my 2 x bricks separated by color in bins, though.
For specialty parts, though, I use a slightly different strategy.
I group similar parts together. These are parts that have the clip handles in some way or form. The only exception is that control brick element in the foreground, which needs to be somewhere else! All the other parts are there for two reasons:
1. They are easier to find in a group than separately. This is especially applicable when I only have a few parts.
2. Grouping encourages my creativity by letting me see more than one option to a part.
Here's another example. Headlight bricks and SNOT bricks in the same drawer. The different options from sunk-in stud to studs on more than one side, give me a variety of ways to mount parts by the side, and in some cases, more than one side.
This system seems to work for me most of the time, although I am in the process of migrating the most used parts to the drawers to build more efficiently. Developing your own sorting setup and system will take a little time, as you have to see what parts you use the most to determine what goes where. Also, if you are a more precise builder, you'll probably want more specific bins and drawers. Keep in mind that this will expand your work area, though. A former AFOL I knew had an entire basement set aside for building, and his walls were lined with drawers of parts.
So how do you sort?
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