Those small blocks of time are good for many things, including reading. If I am reading a dense or difficult book and I want to truly follow the arguments and remember them — such as to be able to describe them cogently, for example, when the need arises and without notes — I like to read it in short sections. Then, each time I start, I reread what I last read, and then read on.
I get a lot done this way and push research forward. I have time to reflect and make connections. I do not like to rush and I find that most academic advice, which emphasizes speed and limitation, disorients me entirely. Luxe, calme et volupté is my motto and that is how I get things done, often faster than others.
I do not like to read e-mail in the morning, it requires service and response and it creates a disturbance in my contemplative time. I do not believe I shall ever read e-mail before noon again.
This fall, here is when I teach: Tuesday and Thursday 12:30-1:45 and 2-3:15, and Tuesday 5-8. I have a standing meeting Wednesday 3:30-5:30, and I believe I shall make my office hours Wednesday 12:30-3:15.
Check this out:
Monday: Research (morning), course preparation (afternoon), general reading and creative writing (evening).
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: Research (morning), teaching/office hours/meetings (afternoon), general reading and creative writing (evening).
Friday: Research or grading/correspondence (morning), house and garden work (afternoon), off (evening).
Saturday: Off or house and garden work (daytime), research or creative writing (evening).
Sunday: Research and work out (daytime), off (evening).
This gives me about six research blocks, which makes eighteen hours. I want fifteen to eighteen hours and it has typically been difficult to see where to get them, but look at my stellar teaching schedule, that leaves mornings and so much other time free. I have not had this situation in many years.
Some of the research time is going to clearing out files, paper ones and computer ones. This is a research and writing activity for me, for many reasons.