Cluttered schedules and pipelines are our everyday norm.

Imagine how much more productive you could be if you stripped away those things that aren't worth the time you spend doing them. What would it take for you to do that?

There's a simple way to start setting your priorities straight. It's about optimizing the opportunity cost of the activities that merely take up time versus the ones that will increase your role as an influencer. As Bruce Lee puts it, focus not on the daily increase, but the daily decrease.

And it's as easy as saying no.

The 3 No's

There are 3 specific scenarios where no is a powerful tool. You can apply principles from each situation to your day-to-day dealings.

1. Saying no to a future (or current) customers

Sounds counterintuitive, right? In our the customer is always right world, it's easy to fall into the trap of always acting according to a client's needs or requests, but in order for you or your business to thrive as it should, you need to be able to say no to a customer.

But when should you pull the no card?

If a customer or target account asks you to perform unrealistic tasks or tries to push you beyond what you're capable of or comfortable with doing, the power of no is in your corner. It's better to deny a service that'll harm you in the long run than try in vain to retain a client whose interests could impede your growth.

2. Start saying no to internal meetings

This one's something everyone can get behind. How often have you had to sit through a meeting that either had nothing to do with your role or dragged on for so long it might as well have been an email?

Only two types of meetings happen in the business world. One is a productive meeting and the other is a complete waste of time.

But if you're saying no to internal meetings, how can you keep your workplace communications up to par?

Salespeople tend to travel to meet clients and close deals, so try setting aside a single day during the week when you know all your workers will be in-office, and then you can make time for all the necessary meetings.

But before you even get to that point, determine which meetings are necessary. Which ones could pertain to just two people over a quick chat and which ones apply to more people but could work much more efficiently as an email chain.

Optimizing how you communicate with your workers is a huge step toward growing as an influencer and cutting down on internal meetings is a great way to start that.

3. Say no to negativity

This is more abstract, but no less important. Here you're looking to combat and do away with the aspects of life that simply weigh you and your business down--both externally and internally.

Don't immediately shoot down new ideas, even if they carry some risk. So many great innovations falter before take-off because doubts seeped into the decision-makers. Commit to giving a new idea a shot on a small scale to see if it works. You might be surprised at the results.

But when rough situations brush up on you and your team, righting the ship can be difficult. Fighting that negativity: understanding how you, as a leader, react will affect the way your team rallies together and overcoming it is a mark of a tried-and-true team. That level of resilience is a mark of true leadership.

How About You?

As soon as you start saying no, all kinds of other opportunities come up.

What kind of needless things do you have cluttering up your schedules and minds? What can you say no to today that would set you on the right path toward growing as a person and influencer? What shift in mindset do you need to make in order to face the true challenges in life with the right perspective?

Just say no and enjoy focusing on what truly matters.