Professional musicians often purchase a device called a practice pod.
It’s nothing more than a soundproofed booth (about twice the size of a refrigerator) that can be set up in an apartment. There’s room for a chair, a music stand, and usually little else. A practice pod allows a musician to practice their instrument at all hours without disturbing the neighbors. If you’re a pro player in, say, New York City, this is a boon.
Practice pods are absolutely soundproof. Sitting inside one is a little surreal—the musician is completely insulated from the world outside. A construction worker could be operating a jackhammer on the street below, and the musician would barely hear it. ￼Of course, the whole point of a practice pod is that the opposite is also true—the outside world is insulated from the sound being produced inside the pod—but my point is that these babies work.
The complete isolation afforded by a practice pod is a good mental model for the kind of￼ mental space we need in order to complete difficult work under stress.￼￼ The world wants to interrupt us with emails, texts, colleagues dropping by to chat, and a thousand other inputs. When we’re not that busy, such interruptions don’t seem like the end of the world. But when it’s go time, we need to enter our metaphorical practice pod (whether it’s a physical space or just a sticky note on our office door reading “please don’t disturb until 2:00 pm”) and do our work without constant interruption. Even if the interruptions are important—and many are—they can wait. They have to.
When the work is piled high and you’re on a deadline, step into your practice pod for a couple hours and lock the door.