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Why L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti Relies On Jazz And Ruzzle To Get Through His Day

Here’s how the ultra-busy mayor gets everything done. “You can’t let the urgent overcome the important,” he says.

Why L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti Relies On Jazz And Ruzzle To Get Through His Day
Key man: Eric Garcetti plays jazz piano to help unwind. [Photo: Tommaso Mei]

Since taking office in 2013, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti has tackled tough issues such as water conservation, raising the minimum wage, and homelessness. His next order of business? “Being a builder,” says the onetime international affairs professor and human rights advocate. “Building a great city, building an economy, building an infrastructure, and, ultimately, building people’s trust in government.” He’s also a delegator, a traveler, and a master napper.

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Strategy to beat procrastination

“Schedule every second of every minute of every hour of every day.”

Biggest productivity issue

“Being reactive. That’s part of my job description: There is always going to be a fire, a shooting, a crisis, but you can’t let the urgent overcome the important.”

Sleep schedule

“The greatest gift I have is my ability to sleep. I can sleep basically at the drop of a hat: for two minutes, for 20 minutes, for two hours. I can sleep in cars. I’ve slept on subways. I’ve slept on jumping speedboats and even trotting horses. I don’t have any problem turning off my mind and falling asleep. And I need my sleep. If I get much less than seven hours a night, it’ll be tough.”

Time-management system

“I have an executive officer who can be like a second brain. The higher up you go in leadership, the less control you have to have. Just cede control of your schedule to the smarter people [on your staff] and they will make you work from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep.”

Coping tactic

“When I’m overwhelmed I like playing Ruzzle. It’s like a Boggle game on your smartphone. I’m pretty good at unplugging when things get stressful and just kind of breathing.”

Go-to motivator

“My household and my daughter. My wife and I have been foster parents, too, and that motivated me in a very personal way. The other one is my city: the highs and the lows of human existence, which mayors have a unique window into.”

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Decompression method

“I play music. I’m a pianist, and I write music. Jazz is my main area, but I’ve written musicals and singer-songwriter stuff. I can clearly carry a tune, but you want somebody else to sing it when you record it. Also travel. I’ve been to 75 countries and all seven continents, and that definitely is a spiritual recharge.”

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About the author

Sharon E. Sutton, FAIA, is an activist architecture educator and scholar who promotes inclusivity in the cultural makeup of her profession and in the populations it serves.

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