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At some point, it gets repetitive. The sheer volume of incoming calls, iterations of the same conversations over and over, and the searcher at the centre of it all busy fielding calls and killing deals left and right. A typical searcher’s jam-packed, time-poor day often means about half an hour of down time between calls, barely enough to catch her breath — certainly not enough to realign and dig deep. In the thick of the grind, preserving precious headspace for critical analysis, evaluation, and strategy planning, is more crucial than ever, but easier said than done.

For Rob, he’s found the best time to do this is right at the start of his day, after he’s had a morning cup of coffee in his system. In the past four months of search, he hasn’t always managed to carve out that time. But he’s been making a marked effort to structure and allocate time better, for live deals on the table and for generating new opportunities.

The former often commands a great deal of — and perhaps far too much of — the searcher’s time and headspace, especially because it’s exciting and full of potential. The bitter reality is, however, that many of these live deals can and will die before coming to fruition. And when they do, having set aside a generous portion of time to generate new deal flow and keep your pipeline active, will cushion the blow.

As a general guideline for my searchers, I recommend spending 80% of their time on new deal flow and 20% on that live deal that’s reaching an IOI. As the latter progresses and the searcher gets closer and closer to closing that deal, the ratio shifts in favor of the deal, but new deal flow should never drop below 30% or so. The fatal mistake is killing new deal flow to chase one exciting deal — once you kill it, it’s far too difficult to resuscitate.