Where you live, the amount (and type) of organic waste you produce, and how quickly you wish to produce (and use) your compost can determine the method you choose for composting.
Some folks choose to play the long game, incorporating a process often referred to as cold or passive composting.
This method involves little to no effort or maintenance, breaking down the matter slowly over time.
Since organic matter decomposes naturally, those individuals with very little matter to compost often choose to leave their piles untended, allowing mother nature to take her course, yielding usable compost in 1-2 years.
Some potential problems with this method include the possibility for lingering pathogens to remain in the compost as the pile may not get hot enough to kill off bacteria, fungi, and parasites, etc.
Another, more popular, method of composting is known as the hot method.
Hot composting, while it does involve some work on your part, is a much faster process that can yield mature compost in anywhere from one month to one year.
As this is the most preferred method, the next section (how to compost) will deal with the details of this process/method.