As always, the first step is to gather every single CD or DVD in your home. Those hiding in the car, those mixed in with photos, those sitting in a desk drawer, wherever. Your CDs and DVDs should be separated into the following categories:
- Movie DVDs
- Music CDs
- Software and technology CDs
- Memorabilia CDs and DVDs
Here's how each category should be set up:
I typically recommend movies be kept in their original cases unless you have so many you don't have space to store them near your primary DVD player. Purge any movies your kids have outgrown or you no longer care about. Depending on how many you have, you may want to alphabetize them or separate them into genres.
I like to toss jewel cases for music CDs in favor of keeping them in a CD binder exclusively reserved for music. Find the non-ugly, shelf-worthy ones below here. You can also DIY CD binders to match your decor (cool tutorial here). Take a few minutes to purge any music you don't enjoy or any CDs that are too scratched to play. I personally have gone 100% digital with my music by downloading CDs to my iTunes account and getting rid of the physical CD. Consider going digital if you have Bluetooth capabilities in your car and have storage space on your computer.
Software and technology CDs can easily get out of control if you're not careful! These should also receive a dedicated CD binder, kept near your primary computer or in your home office. Clearly label software disks with what computer or hardware they go to, and the date you purchased it if you know it. When you recycle an old computer, the corresponding disks should go with it! I can't tell you how many AOL start-up and Windows 98 software disks I find in clients' homes!
Memorabilia disks like photo CDs, home videos on DVD, and sentimental papers or presentations also receive their own dedicated binder. You may want to consider uploading particularly important photos or files to your computer as well so you have a secondary form of backup (or upload them to Google photos in the cloud). These should be kept with your memorabilia.
Any blank disks you find should be clearly marked as BLANK with painter's or masking tape! Keep Sharpies handy near your computer so you aren't tempted to burn something on a CD and leave it unlabeled. As with any organizing, the whole key here is to categorize, categorize, categorize! By keeping disks separated into these four basic groups, you'll avoid having an avalanche of unrelated random CDs lying around.