When it comes to budgeting, there’s something even more crucial than dollars and cents for meeting planners to consider. It’s time. Even if a planner is a whiz at negotiating great deals with hotels and venues, keeping the workload under control can be a much bigger challenge.

Here are some tips from productivity experts on how meeting planners can optimize their most precious commodity—their time.

Set up a selective alert system for e-mail.
What’s the biggest time-waster of all these days? For many, it’s dealing with the mountains of messages that come in constantly, signaled by a nonstop barrage of alerts emanating from smartphones, tablets and computers.

“We’re checking our phones an average of a hundred times a day, so it’s little wonder that we can’t get anything done,” says Laura Stack, president of The Productivity Pro and author of What To Do When There’s Too Much To Do. “There’s an addictiveness in it. We need to stop being the servants of technology and make it work for us.”

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Ron Rosenberg, president of Quality Talk and a frequent speaker on productivity issues, recommends turning off the alert signals and checking e-mail just once or twice a day if possible.

“Put up an auto-responder that lets people know that you are only checking your e-mail at certain times,” he says. “You can also say that if it’s something that can’t wait, here’s an e-mail address that automatically rings our phone. No one will use that.”

Instead of doing away with alerts entirely, Stack recommends setting up a selective system that only signals when incoming messages are being received from select sources.

“Make sure that if you get interrupted, it’s worth it,” she says. “The majority of e-mails are not important enough to be checking all the time.”

Make effective use of the e-mail subject line and signature.
When it comes to e-mail messages that will save time for both the sender and the recipient, the subject line and the signature are critical aspects, according to productivity trainer Peggy Duncan, founder of the Digital Breakthroughs Institute.