Learnt this from my twitter/email exchanges with some productive people I know and it has been serving me quite well so far:
Don’t read the referenced articles before you’re done with the original/current one. (Maintain a document of references if needed)
If you already have more than 5 tabs opened on a same topic, switch to a new window instead of a new tab with just the current article. Helps with the distraction.
Read in multiple-passes instead of a focused single-pass.
3.1. Pass 1: Skim through the structure of the post and the comment section for some context.
3.2. Pass 2: If you find it worthwhile, read through the post carefully and collate all the references and links in a document once you are through the post.
3.3. Pass 3: Skim through the references and embedded links to see if there is anything of value beyond what the original article had to provide. Look for the themes that inspired the original post.
3.4. Pass 4: Read through the ones that you found to be valuable i.e., the ones that had more(different) to offer than the original post.
3.5. Pass 5: Repeat 1 through 4.
(Note: If you are reading a paper or a book, during the 1st pass read through the Table of Contents, Bold faces, Headings, Abstract as part of skimming; Note all the jargons and key concepts in the second pass; and map these concepts and jargons to the known concepts during the 3rd pass; Now go through bibliography like in pass 4 and 5).
Be well rested before any cognitively demanding task, it doesn’t matter if it is a blogpost or a paper. And I seriously can’t emphasise the endurance benefits of being well rested when it comes to cognitive challenges even as trivial as cursory reading.
When reading try to read from the perspective of a specialist as opposed to a generalist, it helps with pruning the articles and tabs that you think are important but don’t serve beyond the session. You can still be a generalist, but the idea is to not be all over the place. This helps with the cognitive exhaustion and the feeling of being overwhelmed. A related idea would be to ask if I would still read it if I were to never talk about it ever to anyone.
(Note: Also helps discern between curiosity and the laziness involved with evading responsibility in the name of curiosity).
You can use tools like Zotero, Evernote, etc for quickly jotting down interesting points in case of a single pass read, but I would say instead of doing that go for multipass and when you are done may be try to write a small commentary post debating the key ideas to solidify your understanding and post it here. Or conversely engage right away by commenting in the comment section.
Always timebox. Mine is usually 6pm-7pm everyday. If you are an infovore, you can make it everyday 7-9 or something like that. I do that because I have a pretty low capacity for consumption, but I can adhere to my own schedule. If you cannot try to time it with your office commute time etc.
This all seems like really helpful advice, so thanks! Multiple-pass reading is something I've made previous attempts at but need to find a way to properly remember to implement, especially for longer things (like, say, books).
I generally timebox specialist reading that has a near-term goal-- reading for university or for a specific paper. The big problem for me personally is that, as a jobless university student, there is definitely a temptation (worsened by lockdown and summer holidays) to let more generic reading expand until it fills my the spare time in my day with little structure. I think your comment has really helped me highlight that as an issue, so thanks.