How Do You Decide What to Listen To?

As with most things audio related what should be simple ends up being somewhat complex (or stupid, depending upon your POV).

I have approximately 2,500 discs (90/10 in favor of vinyl). The CDs are stored in the listening room, but the vinyl is stored in an adjacent room. The records are stored on two separate 4 level racks and are arranged alphabetically by artist.

To listen to music I first have to decide on CD vs. vinyl. If I'm lazy, I'll simply press play and listen to whatever is already in the CD player (a 5 disc changer). Odds are that it will be a number of discs that I really like, but it ignores and eliminates from consideration the vast majority of music that I have available. If I take the time to start searching through either the CD or vinyl collection, then I run into another problem. To physically scan through 2000 records is time consuming. Typically it takes 5 or 10 minutes to pick out a half dozen or so records from which I'll actually listen to 3 or 4. Since I only have a limited amount of quality listening time, I tend to select only those records that I know I already really like. To an extent I'm still ignoring a large part of my music collection. While I'm enjoying what I do select, the problem is there's alot of really good music that I'm not listening to.

I guess my question really is - HOW DO YOU LISTEN TO ALL OF THE GOOD MUSIC YOU HAVE? To select one record means you have not selected another. With only a limited amount of time, do you end up listening to only a fraction of your collection? The same 100 or 200 hundred disc over and over again. I have a good size record collection, but I know from these Forums that others have double or quadruple of what I possess. I would assume that others have this problem and I'm interested in how you have addressed the issue.
It's kind of funny, but I started alphabetising all my music almost 20 years ago after accumulating enough to bother. As most of us do, we probably have 30-40 "go to" albums or cds that we listen to more than any others. Sometimes it's an instrument that I want to listen to. It might be the sax, the piano or a guitar and picking one artist reminds me of others that I might want to listen to. Other times it might be category.. rock, blues, jazz or classical and I'll pull two or three different ones and listen to a cut or two and see if that gets me interested. Once in a while, I'll just start going through a cabinet and spot something that I vaguely remember being worthwhile and put it on only to find out that I should have gotten rid of that crap long ago. I don't know about you, but I feel it almost sacrilegious to dispose of music of any kind. It's almost like that old sweater that you got from your favorite grandmother years ago that you never wear but don't have the heart to throw away. Some music wears well, it may be old, but there's a kind of comfort in that. As I type this, I'm thinking that there is something that I had forgotten and just remembered. Pardon me while I go find that special piece that takes me back to an earlier time and place that I'm missing right now.
Actually, that was supposed to be beads of blood! Just not the same effect, oh well.
John Tesh brings pain to me too and I didn't even have any teeth removed. I'm just glad you were not listening to Greg Brown or Charles Lloyd or somebody else when you went to the dentist.
(This is just a joke)

Sincerely, I remain
Nice thread, Onhwy61. Except in the case where I've just bought something and want to hear it, I almost always choose by my mood, which is often influenced by a recent concert I've been to or a recording I heard on the radio coming home that night. I often will just listen to the tuner for hours, as Whatjd mentions, and let WQXR or NPR pick what I listen to. Every now and then, if the system doesn't seem right, I might bring out one of my reference recordings to see if everything is working right or if the stars are out of allignment, etc. And when I get nostalgic, I dig into those old 60's rock and folk albums. I am not nearly as organized as many of you in filing and categorizing my recordings (which is the opposite of my work habits, interestingly--what does that mean, Detlof?), so I really choose my listening by the piece or the composer I'm in the mood for, then try to find it in my records/CDs/SACDs.