Don't kid yourself, no matter how well you function when disorganized, you will still function better with a system. (I can feel the free spirits who love clutter giving me the death stare right now but I stand by my words. I'm not saying the clutter-lovers aren't fantastic. I'm not even saying you can't have your share of clutter and be optimally effective, if said clutter is methodical. But picking up crap to find other crap which requires wading through crap isn't efficient.)
Of course, putting everything away instantly after usage in tiny compartmentalized spaces when you'll need them again 5 minutes later isn't efficient either - even if it is organized. That's the camp I fall into but we all have our issues...
My compulsiveness has been tested by all the patterns I've purchased in the last 11 months. Including a mere handful of the patterns that come with certain sewing books, I appear to have collected an additional 35 or so. How this has happened is kind of beyond me. But hey, they're cheaper than RTW.
Recently, Victoria mentioned this incredible system she uses to organize her patterns and I was hooked. You should know, I haven't adopted it to the hard core standard she applies, which is to say I haven't grouped my patterns by garment type because a) I don't have that many and b) I'm happy to flip through the book or the index page to find what I'm looking for.
She uses smaller envelopes than I do; right now I'm keeping muslins in my envelopes for future reference. As I've never referred back to a muslin yet (save my bra muslins), I don't think I'll do that for the long term. But the great thing about this system is that it's so modular!
It starts with the binder:
Which contains a pattern index:
Note the index numbers in the left column. The other columns give info about the pattern company, its pattern number, and a description of the pattern. In my case, I've put a little heart next to the patterns that worked out especially well...
Those index numbers accord with the clear envelope encasing the pattern cover:
They also accord with the number on the envelope, in which the pattern pieces and instructions live:
The envelopes live in the fancy new organizer bin system: