When I raise the viewfinder to my eye, unless it is a very quick "grab" shot just to capture the moment before it is gone, I will think. That thinking follows a process even though it may be subconscious.
First, I try to see what I want to include within the frame. With a zoom lens this may mean simply zooming in or out, but it may also involve raising or lowering the viewpoint or moving my position to one side or another.
I check the edges of the frame for intrusions such as branches or twigs and also within the frame for obvious objects such as passing cars, road signs or lampposts.
Next, I try to refine the composition to provide a point of interest, make use of light and shade or lines or shapes or patterns.
Then I decide upon the depth of field I want. Do I want to isolate a subject with a large aperture or try to get everything sharp with a small aperture.
If I want to show movement, I use a slow shutter speed or if I want to freeze movement I will select a fast shutter speed or use flash.
Then I select my point of focus. For people and wildlife this is normally the eye nearest the camera or both eyes. For landscapes it is usually 2/3 into the field of view.
This process may take a second or several minutes depending upon how much time I have at my disposal. I prefer to take a good photo in the camera than spend ages trying to manipulate a poor image in Photoshop later on.
Finally, I take a shot, then check it in my LCD using magnify to see if it looks right, is exposed correctly and is sharp where I want it to be.
If something doesn't look correct, I shoot again continuing the process until I am happy. Then it over to Photoshop Elements to correct minor issues such as cropping or lightening, darkening and saturation.
I hope this helps, but as I say, this is my personal preference.