The Wonders of Sorting Things

This is something I’m fairly sure I’m in the minority with, but I wanted to write up a short post about how much I enjoy sorting things. Putting things in order.

You wouldn’t be able to tell it from my office, of course, which often looks as if a small tornado had browsed through it once and then come back a second time just to double check. I’m not really talking about big organization of things. Not things I use frequently, at least. No, I mean instead the sort of Zen-like state I get into when I’ve got a huge project in front of me that requires the same thing over and over and over.

Give me a spreadsheet that I have to manipulate, and I’m good for a couple of hours at least. Give me a collection of Magic: The Gathering cards, and I’m going to be set for . . . as long as the cards are unsorted.

I’m not kidding. I’ve bought a couple of sizable collections over the years, one of them consisting of about 100,000 cards. That is a lot of playing cards. And I slowly but steadily worked me way through the entire thing, sorting them by set, color, rarity, and alphabetically. I imagine that would be torture for a lot of people, and I can definitely get to the point where my brain is tired and I don’t want to do it anymore.

But there’s something about sitting down to a simple, straightforward task and just churning through it. I find it very relaxing. In fact, when I’m stressed, I’ll often take some time to sort Magic cards some more. I stop thinking about anything, really. I just sit there and look at them card by card.

Recently, I discovered there’s an app for cataloging Magic cards. This was a dangerous thing for me to discover, since it’s one thing to have the cards sorted, but I’ve always been frustrated when I couldn’t know where a card was or if I had it. If I cataloged every single card I own, however . . . then I’d know what I need to all the time, regardless of what future questions came up. (It lets you create sub-collections, and it keeps track of the current trade price for each of the cards.)

I have now cataloged 31,895 cards, and I still have many (many) more to go. Luckily, the app makes it pretty easy. You can use your phone camera to scan the card, and it automatically recognizes it. Still, that means I’ve scanned each of those cards, one at a time. When you figure it takes about a second to scan each card, that’s more than 8 hours scanning.

It’s a project that’s started and stopped several times since I got the app. (Probably around half a year ago?) I’ll go through times when I want to scan more or less. The nice thing is that it’s a project that lends itself very easily to starting and stopping. I know what part of my collection I’ve scanned, and what part I still need to work on. What will I do when I’m completely done?

I’m not sure, but I’m pretty certain I’ll figure something else out to sort, just because I like the feeling.

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