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Five ways to visualize your personal data

We talk about data visualization in the journalistic context, but there are uses in our personal lives too. As we continue to document more and more of our personal data online, new tools are at our dispense to make sense of it all. It might seem pointless, but you’d be surprised at what you can learn about yourself, your work habits, and general life routines by seeing your own data in a whole new light. These are a few tools I’ve recently discovered that have helped me cut out a few inefficiencies in my own life through data visualization.

1. Graph my Inbox

Ever wished you could find out a certain statistic about your email usage? If you use Gmail, you’re in luck thanks to the late Bill Zeller, a Ph. D. Candidate at Princeton University. He created a Chrome extension for your Gmail — called Graph Your Inbox — that allows you to search for any keyword, email address or combination of the two to see a visual display of how that query plays out in your inbox. The resulting graphics include a line graph and bar chart, of which you can break down to see emails relative to that particular result.

2. Where Do You Go

Where do you go? An app for visualizing Twitter checkins.

If you use FourSquare to check into locations, you can connect to Where Do You Go to see your checkins on a heat map. You can zoom out to see the checkins based on different cities you’ve visited. The app features different color schemes and has a few sharing options. Another way to visualize your FourSquare checkins is by visiting your foursquare feeds page. Copy the KML link and copy it to your clipboard and paste it into Google Maps.

3. Tweet Stats

This one is an oldie but a goodie that I frequently check to see how my Twitter habits have changed. Tweet Stats allows you to put in your username (no account required), and after a few minutes of processing, see stats about your tweets per month, tweet density by hour, aggregate daily tweets, aggregate hourly tweets, replies, retweets and interface used — all in a colorful, chart-based display.

4. Your personal Google search history

If you have enabled Google web history to be stored in your browser, you can learn tons about yourself by visualizing the types of searches you do at any point in time. For a detailed breakdown, you can filter the searches you’ve conducted by type: web, images, video, news, products, maps, books, or blogs. If you want to see your personal trends over time, you can use the “trends” tool to filter by time period to see your top queries, top sites, top clicks, monthly search activity, daily search activity, and hourly search activity.

5. Your personal finances

If you are comfortable with handing over your banking credentials to financial tool Mint, you can do a lot more than just plan budgets. With Mint’s “trends” tools, you can see charts of how much money you spend in various categories (dining, health and fitness, transportation, etc.). You can also break it down to compare your spending over certain spans of time or how your spending compares to the average spender in a different city or state.

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