Academic struggling with staying on top of reading current research
I'm a math professor. GTD works very well for me in most areas of my professional and personal life. One where I'm struggling, though, is on staying caught up on reading. I need an effective way to prioritize and read new research that comes out in my field.
Here's what I'm currently doing and what is and is not working. Most new papers that I want to read are posted on a preprint server called the arxiv. I get an email every day from the server with about 40 papers that have been posted in the areas I want to stay in touch with. The email includes abstracts of the papers; every day either first thing or over lunch I scan through the day's email and identify the papers that I want to look at, and flag them (by bookmarking them in my web browser).
After a certain amount of effort, I've disciplined myself to stay caught up with these arxiv emails. What I don't have, though, is a good system for what happens next. Of the papers I flag, probably 1/3 I'll discover I'm not interested in once I start reading, about 1/3 I'm happy just to read the introduction, and 1/3 I would in the ideal world read in more detail. I usually flag 5-10 papers a week for a closer look, so we're talking say 3 papers a week to glance at and not look further, 3 papers to read the introduction of, and 2 papers to read in more detail. This is more reading than I have time to do. I probably have time to read the intros of 3 papers a week, and skim one paper a week in more detail; delving into the nitty-gritty of a paper is much more time-consuming even than that, say one every two months.
Right now all my "closer look" papers effectively go in one big pile -- I download them all to my computer, to library management software. And there the pile sits -- it gets bigger and bigger. If there's a paper I know I'd like to look at in detail, I print it out and put it in a special "to read" pile on my desk. But I don't have any sort of system for processing this pile. So that pile sits on my desk and gets bigger and bigger.
And furthermore, I don't have a good way of deciding which of the papers I'd like to read I actually will read. I don't have time to read 2 new papers a week in detail, so I need some way to triage. And I need some way that is effective that will keep me up-to-date on the next step of processing this "inbox." The daily emails are good for that: there's a folder in my inbox that they go to that acts like a special-purpose inbox for this task. Beyond that, though, I get stuck.
In summary: I think the biggest things I'd like to tweak about this system is an effective way to triage which of the reading I'd like to do I actually will do, and how to manage the in-piles for the next stage of processing these new research papers.
Are there any other academics or others who have lots of reading coming in every day, more than they can possibly do, who have figured out good ways to manage this?