The dangerous thing is that you stop even thinking about those possibilities. Your mind becomes so locked into what is practical with your current tools that the ideal doesn't even enter your mind.
It struck me that I'm now in this position with C++, whereas when I was new to it, my mind was fresh and unbiased by this stale old knowledge. Someone who just got into C++ with C++0x would not have that irrelevant historical bias, and would jump right into doing things in new, better ways.
It also struck me that I ran into this a lot as I was coming up in software. I would talk to older practitioners that I respected about ways of doing things, and they would at times tell me that such and such was a bad idea, or that what I was suggesting wasn't possible or practical, when I was pretty sure my idea was good. In hindsight I was almost always right on the technical issue. Obviously the more experienced person has a lot to teach you about restraint and the pitfalls of coding and so on, but they can also hold you back with outdated ideas.
Winter here is so bloody fucking depressing. It starts affecting me in all sorts of weird ways that I don't realize are just winter depression. Like, I start sleeping in a lot and just generally wanting to lay about a lot; okay, that's easy to recognize as depression and I catch that one. But then I also start thinking about buying random things. I already bought a damn PS3, and just moments ago I bought new floor mats for my car for unknown reasons, and I was starting to think about getting a supercharger when I suddenly realized - my god this is just winter depressed shopping. Obviously a lot of consumerism comes from depression. And just like binging on desserts or booze or whatever, it feels good very briefly and then just feels worse than ever.
Another weird side effect of winter depression is that I start thinking about politics. When I'm running around in the summer time and I see people saying "we need government off our backs" I might briefly think "hmm, that's odd, I don't see government on our backs hurting us anywhere, in fact I see quite the opposite, a severe lack of government interference in our lives causing problems right up and down through every level of society". But in the summer time I say "oh well, whatever" and go off bike riding. In the winter I stew on it until I get angry.
I was doing some research for a political blog post that I deleted, and I realized something. When I do scientific research I try to be open to anything, unbiased by preconceptions about what the answer will be. Often I have a hypothesis about what the best approach will be, but if I find conflicting evidence I am ready to change my mind. But when I do political research, I already know the point I'm trying to prove and I'm just looking for data to back it up. I already have the idea that I want to write about in mind and I just want to find "experts" or data to make it seem more "legitimate", which of course is not really research at all (and is a pretty sleazy way to add impact to your argument, though it's beyond standard practice). Of course some people do scientific research that way - they already know the outcome they want to prove and they just keep trying until they find a study that proves it (yes I'm looking at you, medicine).
Doing things "the best" is egotistical self indulgence. Anybody can do it if they waste enough time on it. (Charles' quick recipe to doing anything "the best in the world" : find out how the current best in the world does it, first make an implementation that matches them; then read some other papers and steal some other ideas; put them into your current implementation and tweak until it provides benefit; tada!). One of the things I was really proud of at Oddworld was that we didn't try to do each thing "the best" ; obviously sometimes we self-indulged a bit once in a while, but in general I think we were pretty good at staying away from that childish competitiveness that plagues so many game developers who want to have "the best" graphics engine or whatever. The productive way is to do it well enough for your use case, and then move on to the next thing. That's the only way you can knock out tons of code quickly.
When I'm procrastinating, I start making up all these strange things that I decide are a good idea to do. I feel like I need to be busy doing something productive, I won't just let myself sit on the couch or be nice to my girlfriend, but I wind up doing things that are completely pointless; recently I started writing my own email client, and making air scoop screens for my car, and replacing all the air filters on all the appliances in the house. When I'm doing it I have no concept that I'm procrastinating, in my mind this is a "todo" item and I'm taking care of things, but then I have a moment of clarity and I'm like "whoah wtf am I doing this for?" and realize that I'm just avoiding the work I should be doing.