Here's something I think illustrates how we always have to be open to doing things in a new way. It's not dramatic, just something that kicked me in the pants a bit. When lighting scenes with area lights, I have often made a habit of keeping their physical size down to reduce the sampling needed to smooth them out. I've been unconsciously doing that for many years. I've recently seen some renderings from maddam for which he has kindly posted some basic lighting screenshots on various forums. I noted the large scale of his area lights, and it hit me that I've been doing it wrong!
The whole purpose of large area lights is to imitate the gigantic softboxes of real-world lighting setups. They are huge for a reason... and my techie response of shrinking them to reduce sampling is just plain foolish. especially these days with faster machines. I set up an area light product shot the other day, with an enormous area light (2 actually), and high sampling both for the primary and secondary rays. You know what happed? It looked better, more realistic, and the render time wasn't bad at all. Even at 8k (for print). Man, I need to get out of the past sometimes;)