You need to stop waiting for permission to do your research.
If you don’t make and protect time for thinking big thoughts, writing, and other research tasks no one else will.
Research is a legitimate part of your job
I know that students and the general public don’t think so. And some of them are inclined to make disparaging remarks about it.
I know that no one would notice whether you did any from one week to the next. It’s easy to let it slide today in favour of something with some kind of deadline, like teaching preparation or responding to e-mail.
I know that it often doesn’t look like work especially if you are reading books or thinking big thoughts.
Nevertheless, research is part of your real work. In fact, it is arguably the most important part of your real work. Consider as evidence, the weight it is given in decisions related to your job security and career progression.
Be careful not to only count the stuff that is close to a final product.
Reading things that may or may not develop into a new direction in your scholarship counts.
Meeting potential collaborators for coffee to talk about general research stuff (and get a feel for whether you could actually work together or even want to) counts.
Writing notes that might eventually become whole sentences in whole paragraphs in an actual article counts.
Walking in the woods while contemplating a theoretical conundrum counts.
Reading back issues of journals to determine whether your current project would be a good fit counts.
Don’t tell me you can’t do many of these things in 15 minutes a day
You don’t need the students to go away any more than my dad needed the customers to go away.
You need to make time in your schedule to do research. You need to prioritize that time. And you need to stop doing things you do have the ability to stop doing (like saying yes to more service/admin tasks than you really need to) to protect that time.
You need to stop making excuses that you can only make meaningful progress if you have big chunks of time on a regular basis and start figuring out what you can do in 15 minutes a day so that you can make the most effective use of the big chunks of time you do get every single year.
Need help getting started? Take the 15-min/day Academic Writing Challenge.