Manuela Montagnana: ‘I Have a Color Code for My Inbox’

The human resources executive on dealing with 1,000 unread messages.

At the Thrive Global pop-up store

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.

Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed? 
Manuela Montagnana: Drink a glass of water… and then check my iPhone.

TG: What gives you energy? 
MM: People! Music, healthy food, a good night of sleep (8 hours), running in Central Park. 😉

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
MM: No, we have separate bedrooms.

TG: How do you deal with email?
MM: I have a color code in my inbox: blue for me only, black when am in CC, red from VIPs… and I have given up on reducing the number of unread emails. I permanently have approximately 1000+ unread, but I rarely miss an important one. On transatlantic flights, on average I manage to delete up to 500 unread emails.

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
MM: A phone call/WhatsApp to my friends and family.

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out?
MM: Didn’t feel like that in a long time…

TG: Share a quote that gives you strength when times are tough.
MM: “The sun will rise tomorrow morning.” Is that from President Obama on November 9?

Manuela Montagnana is the VP of Human Resources EMEA at ADP, the payroll and HR management firm.

Originally published at

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