- Keep it simple. The more complex your system, the harder it will be to keep it up.
- Use what you have until you can afford or obtain something else to use.
- Being organized makes you more efficient - which means more time to mini overall.
- Organization takes time, messes don't happen overnight and getting organized won't either (unless you have so little to store, then you are practically organized anyway)
- Use the smallest container you can to hold all related items
- Keep like items together, this might be by type of tool, type of material, theme or by color are some examples.
When we consider how much time we have for minis (I work full time, so I might can carve out a whole weekend or just a few hours a week) we don't want to spend our time finding what we need. I suggest that you do take some time to make it easier to find what you want to use.
Step one is to identify how much time you have to mini and therefore devote to organizing. If you have a lot of time, you might consider takes several hours and doing some organizing. However if you are more like me and don't have but a few hours a week, then I suggest you pick something - anything and plan on organizing that for 15 - 30 minutes. If this means that you do nothing but sort into big boxes, paint all in one box, wood all in a second, all fabric, all wallpaper, etc, do that.
The second part of Step One is to do minis. This way you won't feel cheated because all you did with your mini time was to organize. If you are on that limited time budget, then by all means do not drag out everything, (unless that is the only way you are going to find all the _____ fill in the blank), even it is to just decide that you want to paint this so-so color, look through a magazine or to put together a round table kit. Focus on doing minis for the majority of your mini time. Then come back to the organizing.
Step Two is to identify what you have to use as storage solutions. I will show you my current solutions, but these are just examples of what I have. I am not suggesting you go buy all new stuff (well unless you really have the money to do so and then I am jealous). I really do recommend to use what you have and add other solutions as they become available to you.
Step Three is to identify what space you have for storing. The smaller space the more important to use smaller containers to avoid 'air' which is unused space. One thing to keep mind about the space you have also is how easy it will be to get to the storage solutions you choose. I have learned the hard way that - everything might fit but if I can't get to ___ then it is not the best solution. So when you think about this step, also think about putting things you use less often in the places it is harder to reach or get to.
By identifying what you have to store and what you currently have to store it in and where, you will know better what direction to take when you are looking for new solutions.
What I am currently using:
This pic shows how I store small bits of wood. I have two divided plastic boxes (fishing tackle type boxes) without the lids. These particular boxes have 4 long sections that can be divided into smaller sections. I have been able to collect quite a few of these boxes from where I work (lids were broke or they are cracked is why I was able to get them) but I have seen them at Walmart and Hobby Lobby.
I used to store all my scrap wood in a bin but when I wanted to use it I was constantly dumping the bin and sorting through it to find something I might use. Then often as not, I couldn't find what I wanted and would use a bigger piece. Then as I was putting back in the bin, I might run across what I wanted to begin with. I finally figured out that I should take the time to sort by shape and length and I customized this box with the dividers to fit what I needed.
The second box that is in the actual drawer holds longer pieces. Below the second box are sheets that fit in the drawer. I then have two other places that I store wood. One is for really long pieces of trim and molding. It is a cardboard box that I got and holds most of the rest of my wood. (I do have one other spot that i store large pieces that don't fit here but that is because of size and less use.) Notice I have some round tubes in front of this box. Before I had this long box, i used cardboard tubes in a box with other round long things such as wallpaper and a yardstick. Now that I make mostly 1/48th scale miniatures, I don't have as much long pieces so I can fit everything in this long box. But the round tubes are just as good. I got mine from wrapping paper.