Is scheduling time for research a good idea? It depends on your personality and your research style. If you find yourself with no time to think about an interesting problem because too much else is happening then yes, best to schedule a few hours where you promise yourself you will do nothing else but research during those times. This means more than not preparing for class but also ignoring your computer. Checking email and surfing the web are themselves great time sinks.
In my case, I find it difficult to just start thinking about research at a given time. So I use the rule that research trumps all and when inspiration hits me, or someone comes to my office with a research question, I drop everything I can to work on the problem. Okay, I can't skip a class for research but email, weblog posts, referee reports, etc., should never stand in the way of science.
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