In passing I have seen several plugins/apps/sites that offer to retrieve your email history and present some sort of analysis. My wife mentioned this recently and I thought this idea sounded like fun so I did a little processing on my own email. I have email records going back to late 2003 – just about the time I started undergrad. So with some grep/java/gnuplot magic I present to you a graph of the timestamps for every email I have sent since then. I just processed sent emails because my behavior should be more evident than in received.

Analysis

The graph contains a red dataset – my personal emails and a green dataset – emails sent from my university account. The Y axis is time of day and the X axis is the date. Each dot is an email sent at that time on the given day.

Region-by-region

  • The first region that you see is before I started logging school email. It just has personal emails… spanning all times of day/night. Seriously? I sent more email from 0000-0800 then 1600-2400???
  • Second region introduces university emails. During this time I also worked for the university part-time 0900-1800. Nothing too surprising here.
  • Third region is what I call early grad school. A general increase in both of my email volumes.
  • Fourth region – the ASSERT period. The ASSERT project was a massive 2-2.5 year research lab project with a lot of people working on it and a lot of work. Check out the huge increase in school emails. I bet you could spot deadlines in there too.
  • Fifth region – Summer internship
  • Sixth region – Late grad school. Post-quals, post-course work, post-ASSERT, just relaxed set my own schedule time
  • Final region – Real Job. Strict no-email hours, waking up early, less email, yup, that’s real life for ya.

Global observations

  • Maybe I imagine it but I swear you see that the time that I start sending emails in the morning gradually becomes later and later — same for cease time. What/who is to blame? Grad school or my GF/fiance/wife?
  • I sent more school email than personal: 5,164 messages to 4,849 messages
  • You can vaguely spot summer breaks. Look for swaths of lower green density bordered by bursts.
  • Sadly you can’t really spot certain events like: marriage, quals, proposal or defense.

Statistics

Number of emails sent per year:

Year Personal Count School Count
2003 - 57
2004 145 310
2005 412 310
2006 474 354
2007 728 815
2008 831 1,378
2009 804 1,140
2010 893 438
2011 438 464
2012 – to May 68 59