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.


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.


  • 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.


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