People seem to come in two thought process categories. Those who think linearly and those who, well, don't follow the straight line, it's more of a free association of ideas. They see things differently and we need both in the world.
I read an organizational article describe it as the pilers versus filers. The visual among us need to see the papers or the objects that need attention. The filers can put these same objects in a file drawer in a folder and still do the task or find that paper and make it useful at the appropriate time. I'm a piler. If it needs to be done or dealt with, it needs to be where I can lay eyes on it. I use a file cabinet for deep storage, like receipts for next year's taxes. It's not something that needs to be dealt with on any regular basis or soon. It's very hard for me after I've been on kick of putting things away because I can't find anything. Usually something terribly important is missing after these organizational bouts. I KNEW where it was when it was in the pile on the desk. If you are not a piler, you will not understand what I have just described.The disadvantage is it leads to lots of piles and it's not pretty. I've tried bags - that is taking all those stray canvas bags and putting all associated things in a bag. It hasn't worked very well. Unseen, undone, unuseful.
Another way of looking at these different patterns is a formal outline versus a sort of free shaping brainstorm. I was at a seminar where this was described a couple times and I can't remember or find on line what the real name is. Rather than I. A. a. B. b., you take a piece of paper with your main idea in a circle in the middle. Then you sort of free associate anything related that you can think of in other smaller circles on the page and you can eventually connect the circles that go together. It ends up as a series of shapes and lines, like a sloppy line drawing. It sounds messy, but for those non linear people it is very helpful. It turns the idea into a shape or visual that you can begin to manage.
One interesting thing I've noticed about this lately is that these two categories do not necessarily line up with personality types. I hear people say they are a big idea person and not one for details. I think the idea people and the detail people can be on both sides of the linear versus shapes thought processes.
I can be the idea person and often am, but I can execute the details too. It's odd to me that so many people see that as an either or question. Yet, how can I be a detail person and yet not be linear in my thinking? Or is it that I don't think linearly enough so I run rampant around my mind in circles until I've covered as many details as I can think of? I'm not sure I know the answer. I know it's not a straight line.
So which are you?