For the love of god, where's your project manager?
If you don't have a project manager to help you establish productive time, you need one. You need a person dedicated to sticking up for your development time, limit scope creep, manage expectations, etc...
You do a creative job for a living. If you don't have a barrier between your customers/users and you, how can you effectively focus on your development?
A good PM can be good for a lot of things...
1. To play the 'Higher Power' card:
Your users are bugging you for new features but you really need some time to focus on a bug-fix release. Who said you have to talk to the users? Is it your responsibility to write the contracts? Is it your job to manage customer expectations? Do you have final decision power to dictate the terms of the contract?
No? Then why are you solely responsible for interacting with the customer? Development is hard and takes a lot of concentration. You need the ability to reclaim development time and you can do so with a good PM and a good excuse.
Regardless of what your PM makes compared to you, if customers start bothering you about modifications outside of the spec just say.
"Negotiating changes outside of the specification is above my pay grade..."
It's a polite way of saying, I don't give a s***.
Follow that up by sicking the 'Scope Creep Dog' on them.
"If you want to make changes to the spec you'll have to get in touch with my PM"
Now, leave me alone. A user's ability to directly interact with the developers is allowed as a privilege that can be taken away. If that's not the case, your management is failing you.
2. Managing Expectations 101
Who in their right mind thinks you can work such a crazy schedule and handle 24/7 tech support. You need somebody to stand up for you because your time is valuable and should be dedicated to your craft.
This applies to customers as well as the company you work for. For customers, if they are overstepping you can always ask...
"Is this service written into the contract?"
If it's not, you have the right to reject requests then. Don't get me wrong, it's nice to go above-and-beyond to make your customers happy but it's equally important to let them know the difference between what's expected and what you're giving to them as a favor.
For the company you work for, you need somebody to carry the message...
"Is the work I'm being asked to do equal to my pay-grade?"
Ie, are they paying you 60k a year to spend 50% your time doing phone tech support which is a much lower paying position. This is a dangerous topic to broach so you need a PM you can trust to make a good case for you. The argument you should make to him is...
"I get paid 60K a year but half of my potential productivity is being wasted on menial work."
Or, you guys hired me and are willingly losing money on that investment by having me spend half my time filling a low grade position. Believe it or not, by maximizing your potential they can make more money in the long-run.
When it comes to business, it's a hell of a lot easier to get the company to change their position if you can present a win-win situation. You don't have to be a master of negotiation for this one to stick. Of course, if the company resources are limited then this may backfire on you.
3. Everybody could use a cheerleader sometimes
A good PM will naturally be a people-person. The core of what they do is people relations. A good PM will have the ability to tell your customer what they don't want to hear and still have them walk away happy.
They can also be a great source of moral support when times get tough. A simple morale boost shouldn't be too much for a good PM to handle if you ask. You need somebody on your side, or else your morale drops and the work feels overwhelming.
If you don't have somebody higher up in the organization that is responsible for managing expectations, your management is failing and the higher-ups are probably not even aware of how bad the project is doing.
That's the main reason I avoid working for corporations like the plague. I have been fortunate enough to work for smaller companies where I have somebody higher up I can honestly discuss problems with who will hold what I have to say in confidence and take action if necessary.
You need somebody on your side to help keep you in line with business requirements and manage distractions. If you don't have that and there's no hope of finding it in the future, good luck...