When faced with a large amount of similar objects, I immediately feel an urge to select, clean, sort and categorise them. Having lots of electronic components lead me to buying drawer-racks to sort them. I also have a collection of vacuum-tubes, now stored in about 300 cardboard boxes but I am planning on building large glass paned cabinets to store and show them. The real problem with large amounts of things is to find a proper way to sort them. In the Farnell warehouse you will hardly find 2 similar products laying next to each other. Instead, new goods coming in are stored in the first empty tray available. The logic is residing in the software used to govern the warehouse. On a much smaller scale, like my workshop, it is worth thinking about the way to store components. For speed and convenience, resistors and capacitors are stored following the E12 series. But where to start? using a complete column for the 0.1 Ohm range, only having some 0,22 and 0,47 resistors for amplifier repair ? Stop at 820nF or continue into the uF's ? Then double for non-polar and electrolytics ? How to continue in the electrolytics when they are available in E3 only, except for that one 390uF for the Switched Mode Power Supplies ? How to deal with the large value electrolytics that are so big they don't fit in a drawer ? Transistors are stored NPN and complementary PNP, side by side. TTL and CMOS along their number, downwards in one rack, different families and brands put together in one tray.
Isn't there an algorithm or theorema that helps sorting things in a way that has been proven or is there a formula that includes all your criteria and comes up with the perfect way to sort ? Such algorithms must exist, being used for calculating the routing and time tables of public transport or teacher-classroom allocation. In some situations there are so many variables it even cannot be solved with simple math. Then we are leaving the path of exact science into a world of integrating, Monte-Carlo runs and probability. As a rack filled with components cannot be sorted in a way that does justice to all wishes you had in mind, there still must be a way that comes closest. Probably.
I have a friend who sorted his collection of books to the colour of the book cover. A method that, I find, is a pro for associative browsing  but at the same time a proof that sometimes there is no way to sort objects in a way that does justice to all criteria you find appropriate. So when it's becoming to complicated, you sort in an odd way or don't sort at all. When using a database for your collection or business, the fine thing is that the goods can be stored in whatever way while the database can be manipulated to represent the data in the desired ways like sorting books on title, author, year, subject or,... colour of the cover. When arriving at that stage I often opted for a third way that is, to try to largely reduce the number of thing to sort. To take a look at my vacuum-tubes I don't want to first browse a database on my computer. Choose the books you will never read again and have them recycled. Some "music was my best friend" Try to design an electronic circuit using less different components.
Today Farnell has a huge amount of different articles in stock and an old but powerful software to handle all this. This is to serve our clients who have such different desires that it takes several giant warehouses to store all these goods. But in case even Farnell doesn't have the component you are looking for, I know a little shop in St-Ives.
Must be an equivalent of the tardis...