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Parkinson's law

Just like a gas expands to fill its container, tasks often expand to fill the allotted time. Cyril Northcote Parkinson noted such in a humorous essay published in The Economist in 1955:
"Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion."
It became known as Parkinson's Law, and it's partially why procrastination is so common; we think of the deadline for a task, then allow ourselves to use the entire amount of time between now and the deadline to complete it. Even if the task could be completed quickly, we consciously or subconsciously desire to take all the time possible.

In his book The 4-Hour Workweek, Timothy Ferriss comments:
If I give you 24 hours to complete a project, the time pressure forces you to focus on execution, and you have no choice but to do only the bare essentials. If I give you a week to complete the same task, it’s six days of making a mountain out of a molehill. . . . The end product of the shorter deadline is almost inevitably of equal or higher quality due to greater focus.
The next time you have a task or project to complete, divide it into small portions, and set milestones that you can easily achieve within short time periods. You'll get more done and have a greater sense of accomplishment than if the task had lingered on your to-do list for ages.

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Sources
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