I can so resonate with you and time constraints, having only just recently being able to slow down a bit more and smell the roses with slower travels. As you say it's the work that enables us all to have the lifestyle to travel in the first place. There is absolutely no one right or wrong way to achieve the RV lifestyle that suits, but this is what we did during our fulltime work and school years to try to give ourselves the maximum experiences we could FWIW:
We bought our first RV in 1999, and our limitations were around the kids schooling, destinations of interest for them and the nearest warmest destinations, at least when there might be a snow/ice respite to be able to get out the driveway (LOL).
Our first trip of the year typically meant Easter = 10 day trip to Las Vegas (remember when they were converting Sin City to a supposedly more family orientated area in the late 90's?). LV was approximately 17hrs by car from door to door so for us 21+/- hrs depending on stops along the way, a semi taking our wing mirror off or a deer jumping out in front of us!
We would pick the kids up from school in the RV at 3pm and hit the road immediately with mini stops for a treat/gasoline and eating pre-prepared food as we drove. Being day 1 it was a novelty day so we'd get as much mileage under our belts as possible and the videos and walkman's would entertain. We'd typically stop finally at way past midnight dry camping. Day 2 we'd typically be on the road by 7.30am, stop after couple hours for breakfast, then lunch and by afternoon typically be pulling into Zion National Park area = the vacation had begun. Next day we'd visit the park for a few hours, then head a couple hours and stop at Mesquite and then another hour and a bit we'd be pulled up to check in for our next 6 night stay.
When it was time to head home, we'd drive the hour or so north to Mesquite, let them do the go-karts, mini golf etc, adults last casino fix and a big final day buffet, then the next day and a half was hit the road.
In the summer months it was always easier to plan travels closer to home, BC, AB, Rockies, MT, etc although we would sometimes do the same with getting good mileage under our belt the first couple of days, and then if we could get almost 3 weeks, try to do a bigger circle trip of say, Columbia River to Oregon & California Coast, back up through Grand Canyon, Utah home.
Apart from "weekend" true backwoods camping style trips closer to home, during our work and school years, we tried to experience as much as possible and actually spent very little downtime sitting parked in the RV anywhere. We'd tend to go from one location to another and often park the night before near a zoo or something we wanted to spend a few hours seeing the next morning. Yes it was an assault course at times, and I had routes, stops and times printed out, but we all have very fond memories of those years and mountains of wonderful experiences that can never be taken away from us.
Hitting the East Side and Travelling Across Canada we did in much later years when we could steal 5-6 weeks. Sure we missed a lot of little gems along the way, but they are where we will stop now as we take longer and slower travels. We truly have no regrets doing it the way we did and it worked for us at that time in our lives.
The best piece of advice, we received was "you can't do it all at once", as much as we wanted to when we first got our RV. We printed off several copies of maps of NA and then blocked into logical sections and highlighted major key things we wanted to see, then researched the areas enroute to add in a small detour or interest stop offs, to break up the monotomy of driving non-stop. Some days we'd put on 600 miles or more, but split down into a couple hours here, 30 mins there, 3 hours etc.
I have very detailed in a journal every trip we've taken since Day 1 in the RVs and that is shaping our slower travels today. I'd advise everyone to journal their travels, they are a wonderful reference in future years and often some laughable/embarrassing at times, reminders.