About 5 years ago, I stumbled upon the perfect way to deal with email: I simply let my inbox fill up, then once every three months I take all my messages, sent and received, and drop them into an archive folder corresponding to whatever the current year is. It’s wonderful. No managing folders, no worrying about read or unread, nothing. In an instant, my Inbox is transformed from a rather daunting morass of items both urgent and irrelevent into a pristine field of emptiness. If it felt any better, I’d be giggling.
I could of course just delete my email, but that is far too stressful. “Did I delete something important?”, “What if I need that some day?” Instead I’m an email packrat; I keep everything and if something really is important, I go track it down. This scheme has proven it’s worth on numerous occasions. I’m able to go back and dredge up various snippets of conversations and information that prove surprisingly useful. Or, like today, I can do something completely trivial yet mildly entertaining with it.
When I sat down at my computer this morning and realized that, yes, it was that time again, I got to wondering about how much email I’d received over the years. For whatever reason the notion of a nifty little graph showing how much email I’d received tickled my fancy. So I set about hacking my mailbox archives. One rather complex Sed script later, plus a couple minor shell commands, and I had what I was after – the graph above, showing exactly when I’d received the ~41,000 emails I’ve dealt with over the last 12 years.
*yawn* Hell, I’m boring even myself to tears.
But wait, there is one interesting thing – that giant spike around 10/03. The high point (I guess) of my career at AOL. Around the time we were releasing AIM Express, and I was on all sorts of mailing lists and riding herd over developers, QA, and operations folks (… or perhaps they were riding me. whatever.)
“Hmm… what about the giant dip right after that”, you ask? Well, that… *ahem*… that’s when AOL laid me off. Almost overnight 95% of my email dried up. It left a palpable void in my life that was rather terrifying. I had become so accustomed to dealing with email every moment of the day that I literally didn’t know what to do with myself. It was sobering to realize how much of my social network came from not just work, but that little glowing Inbox.
Time passes, and we all adjust however. I am back to a somewhat more reasonable lifestyle, although now that I’m consulting for AOL (Ha!) things are starting to heat up again. But, for the moment, my Inbox is blisfully empty. I am free to relax.
Until I hear those three horrid little words, that is… “You’ve Got Mail”