Beware of Lazy Thinking
A basic motif in chess is to trade material when ahead. The simplest way to understand this, is if you are up a pawn, manage to trade everything, you then followup this simple plan by promoting the pawn to a queen, and checkmating with the King and Queen vs King; provided you know the technique. Sometimes I do the King and Queen vs King checkmate blindfolded with students, since it leaves quite an impression!
Back to the concept of trading when ahead - this is helpful since in general when you trade while having more pieces, you magnify your advantage. Being up a rook in the opening is good, but having King and Rook vs King in the endgame is way better (again, if you have been taught the technique for winning it 100%).
In general, this will help you win more games since it is hard for your opponent to mount a comeback when his army is small or a lonely King!
Having a tendency toward trades when ahead in points is now obvious Even better, if you visualize the resulting position AND have a clear plan how to win from there.
I wanted to show an example, where I was guilty of lazy thinking, and also ask - what would you play if you were black in this position?
I thought, hey I am up a pawn, I can play a forcing sequence of moves, and be two pawns up, and two pawns is generally a win.
I calculated 22...Qd1+ 23. Kg2 Bxf3+ 24. Qxf3 Qxf3+ 25. Kxf3 Bxa3.
I did not think of the exact resulting position and how easy it would be to continue to trade/force checkmate/which pawns might promote, etc.
Materially, I am ahead by two pawns, but the computer evalutation is close to =.
Prior to swapping the heavies (Queen,etc) - and if I had mobilized the rest of my forces, even thought I am up only a single pawn, the computer evaluation is +7 due to black's pieces coordinating well.
Just Re8, and all of White's pieces are tied down. Black 's Queen will come to d5 or the e-file, the dark squared Bishop will capture a pawn or two on the queenside thereby creating passed pawns, etc.
Are you ever guilty of lazy thinking? It is vital not only to have a general plan, but to see the resulting positions and a more exact plan (and assessment). Don't be lazy!