OYLC Part II: Sorting Sets

Welcome to Part II of OYLC (Organizing Your Lego Collection)!
This section covers sorting out complete sets from bricks. If you finish or if this is not what you're looking for, feel free to browse the other sections of the series:
Part I: Sorting Bricks
Part III: Sorting Sets (Special Cases)
Part IV: Storing It All

To perform this step properly, all of your Lego bricks should be sorted, as directed in Part I. Next, find all of your instruction books and pick one to sort. If you don't keep your instructions, all you can do is see what pieces you recognize and look up instructions online (Brickset.com is an excellent resource).

It doesn't matter what set you start with, though you may wish to start with a small one while you get used to sorting. When I first started, I made the mistake of beginning with a massive set, and I quickly abandoned it in favor of a smaller one (I eventually finished the first, though).

The sorting process is simple, but very tedious and painstaking. All you need to do is follow the instructions and build the set, searching for each piece one at a time.
Note: It will take FAR less time if you previously sorted your pieces as discussed in Part I.
 If you cannot find a piece, feel free to move on and find the rest. However, make sure to write down every piece you do not find, so you know what set the piece goes to once you find it (or replace it).

This is my Discovery Mission to Mars set (7469), which I just recently sorted after ten years of being incomplete.
Another way to do this is to gather all pieces found in the inventory in the back of the instructions. While it is much more difficult to keep everything straight, it does work. This method is discussed more in Part III (link above).

As with most steps, you have some freedoms. You may keep all of your missing part lists in one place, or with each set. (You could also not document them at all, but I don't recommend doing that). If you get tired of working on one set, you can set it aside and work on another. How you work is up to you, but you must know that this step takes the longest of all, and it won't necessarily be easy.
When a set is sorted- either completely or partially- I recommend storing it so it will be out of the way. You can use a bag, a box, whatever works for you. I have stored sets in everything from shoe boxes to Ziploc bags to Clorox wipe containers. As long as they are out of your work space when not needed, it works.You should be fine if you have your bricks and instructions in one place.

Most importantly, don't get discouraged! This step can be VERY FRUSTRATING. If you need to take a break, do so whenever necessary. Try watching a movie or listening to music while you work. Good luck and happy building!

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