The first thing you need to do is decide which method you will use to sort your cards. Four schools of thought exist, but you can also use a combination of them. Depending on your situation, each one has its pros and cons. Obviously, more methods than those described here do exist, but I do not consider them viable at all. I mean, who would go and put all of their cards in alphabetical order? It would take a millenium!
The first method is all about sets. You sort your cards depending on the set they were released in. In my opinion, this method would take ages to complete for someone with a humongous collection that has never been sorted. Looking at thousands of cards while focusing only on their set code is not an easy thing to do.
However, this method is ideal if you try to follow it from the next set you collect onward. This way, you won't have to go through your entire collection—at least not before you read about the second method.
The second method, and you might have already guessed it, is by rarity. Sorting your cards depending on their rarity is really easy and you can do it very quickly. Rarities are simple to identify through a quick glance at each card. You will end up with piles of secret, ultimate, ultra, super, gold rare, rare, and common cards. When it comes to gold rares, you can refine your sorting by separating secret gold rares from normal gold ones, et cetera.
This method is extremely efficient, not really time-consuming, and it is the ideal way to start sorting your cards, whether you have thousands of them or only a few hundred.
The last two methods are sorting your cards by either card type or value. The former is about separating your monsters, spells, and traps first. Then organize the monster cards into normal, effect, ritual, fusion, synchro, xyz, pendulum, and link piles. Similarly, based on how many cards you have, you might need to sort your pendulum monsters the same way. It is worth noting that if you own way too many of them, you might even need to categorize your monsters depending on their attribute, type, or both. Apply the same logic to all the types of spell and trap cards and you are good to go.
The value method is a bit different from the previous ones. You probably already have your more expensive cards in a separate place. Your higher-rarity ones might even be on their way to get graded by Cardmarket. But your commons and rares, most likely, all sit together in a big bulk. While organizing them with the methods I just described, you should definitely keep your eyes open for any valuable little gems you might have.
It's my turn and I activate Polymerization fusing the second method with the last two methods to form my method of sorting cards. So to get to the point, I suggest you follow this process in order to sort your cards efficiently.
First, you need to quickly separate them between rarities. This will greatly reduce the time needed for the next steps. Obviously, really expensive cards don't need to take part in this procedure. Having done that, you are going to start sorting depending on the card type. Sort by monsters, spells, and traps (as stated earlier) and then their own subcategories. The effort and time this takes will depend on the number of cards you possess. For example, I personally do not own that many ultra rare trap cards. Therefore, I do not need to separate them between normal, counter, and continuous traps. I leave them all together as a bunch of ultra rare traps.
After sorting all your cards, it's time to put them somewhere safe, in a place where they won't get easily mixed up again. Your binders are the perfect spot for that. Try maintaining the order of the cards from the earlier steps. In case you have way too many cards, you can even dedicate entire binders for certain sorts of cards. One for monsters, another one for spells, another one for extra deck monsters, and so on. You get the idea.
It should go without saying that you will have to write down where every kind of card is, but I will still come back to this later. It is also important to state that expensive commons and rares should absolutely be put into binders. They are too valuable to be sitting inside tins.
Now that the more expensive and precious cards are out of the way, it's time to deal with the bulk. It is necessary to sort your commons to the absolute extreme, as there are probably way too many. If you don't do it now, it is going to be impossible to navigate through them with ease in the future. The same goes for rares, but when it comes to monsters, sorting them with the method described earlier should be sufficient. You probably won't need to sort them by types, like spellcaster, warrior, et cetera.
It's time to store the sorted cards. Get your tins and boxes, and start putting your cards inside. Try to assure that each tin has a very specific subset of cards. For example, one tin can have common dark attribute monsters. Another might have all your extra deck common monsters. A different one only rare spells.
Having done all that, it is helpful to stick a piece of paper on each tin and write briefly about its contents. In case one tin contains more than one type of cards, put a small piece of paper inside, showing where everything is. You can use bulk commons from other card games to separate the contents of your tins. These cards should have bigger sizes to do the trick. A piece of paper can work as well.
Yes, you read correctly. Spreadsheet, Excel, a Word document, a notebook, anything that works for you is fine, but you need something to write down some stuff. You sorted your cards and you distributed them among your binders and tins. Now you need to make sure that all the effort was not in vain. Write down where every single type of card you own is. The cells in the spreadsheet are the ideal option in my opinion, as you have virtually no limit when it comes to space and modification.
Below is an example of what the final result might look like. You can do it any way you like, obviously. Personally, I used color in cells to navigate more easily.
To sum it all up, organizing your cards is really helpful and will save you tons of time in the future. If you are a competitive player, I personally find it essential to separate your cards between staples and collectibles before you start sorting them in other ways. To be honest, the idea for this article was born when I was organizing my collection for Cardmarket. Why use the comment section for each card to note where you are keeping it when you can have it all together elsewhere?
Anyway, that's it for today. Did you find the methods in this article useful? Are you going to follow them or do you have better ones? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, not of Cardmarket.