During a symposium I attended this weekend, we were talking about how we worked best. It reminded me of discussions I've previously had in the blogosphere (I especially remember T.E., What Now, Heu Mihi, Hilaire, Squadratomagico, and Sisyphus El Cog being part of it; but there were certainly more!). We were talking about the mechanics of how we worked: which pens and paper we liked, how we organized our thoughts, how we took notes, to outline or not to outline, which new computer programs helped, etc.
But this weekend, the conversation moved toward whether you worked better when you were teaching or not - i.e., did the structure of teaching help you structure your research time as well? This is definitely true of my friend A, who deliberately teaches summer school because 1) it pays well, and 2) she gets tons of work done having the structure added to her day.
I used to think this was true for me as well - until this year. It seems like I got SO MUCH work done this summer - I had no trouble imposing deadlines on myself and I loved just writing and researching at will. Lately, I have to constantly stop whatever bit of research I'd started and do some work on some service-related thing (i.e., curricular reform, blah, blah, blah) or I have to go over my SGGK notes once more for class. These are not hugely time consuming, but there's a lot of them. It's like a dense cloud of buzzing gnats - one is no problem, but a million of them is gross.
We have recently been told that we will get jr fac leave here at the Dream Academy (thanks to my and my friend's proposal, actually) - and I can't wait for that semester the year after next when I can take off and do some great, unimpeded research with a summer tacked on (either to one end or the other).
My remedy for now will be to find a way to dedicate at least one day a week to research and only research. I'll prep my classes early (I've taught them all before anyway), I'll grade, comment on theses, write proposals 'til I'm blue in the face, etc. all in the service of giving me that one day off.
What say you bloggys? Do you find the school year gives you better structure for research or not?