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Your Phone Is Not What's Distracting You

I was deep in thought the other day when my little boy brought me back to the living. I wasn't stressed or overwhelmed—I was simply lost in a summer memory that brought a smile to my face.

"What are you thinking of?" he asked, in his little big-boy voice. Our eyes met.

"I was remembering that day when the tide was super low and the waves were super big, and we spent the whole day riding the waves and laughing together." He snuggled into me and found his way into my memory.

"That was the best day, Mommy."

I've been a daydreamer since I can remember. I daydream to check out for a moment. I daydream to let creativity in. And, although it wasn't the case on that particular day, I daydream to cope with stress.

RELATED: 3 Mindfulness Acts for Smart, Happy Kids

When my task manager wakes me in the middle of the night and keeps me up reviewing the "didn't do" list, I am prone to daydreaming the next day. When I'm overloaded with work that feels difficult to manage, I am prone to daydreaming. When some external stress threatens to send my heart racing, I am prone to daydreaming.

If you put off the task manager, she'll find her way to speak up.

While my daydreams generally help restore my sense of calm, I sometimes wonder if they also contribute to distraction. It's difficult to be lost in thought while connecting with my kids, focusing on friends, working or enjoying time with my husband.

If I'm lost in thought, even if those thoughts are positive, I can't be fully present.

Distracted living is hot topic lately. Parents stand accused of distraction when they check their phones at the park, fill their weekends to capacity or spend too much time connected to the digital world. It comes up time and time again.

I'm an under-scheduler by nature, and I don't love looking at a screen. So I don't necessarily engage in activities that make me appear less present. But I do get lost in daydreams—sometimes even at the park.

Distraction comes in many forms, but it can be mediated by choosing to change your habits.

Distracted living, it turns out, isn't just about iPhone usage and attending every event that comes your way. I've been working my way through Rachel Macy Stafford's book, "Hands Free Life," and have learned a few things about myself. If I really want to live with intention, I need to work on the distractions that are unique to me.

I'm still a work in progress, but here's what helps me:

1. Make time for the task manager

My inner task manager tends to cause insomnia (often from 2 to 4 a.m.), because I put her off as much as possible. I'm great at reminding myself that I can, in fact, get things done and that worry won't really get me anywhere.

Until 2 a.m.

If you put off the task manager, she'll find her way to speak up. And that might very well leave you completely exhausted and even more distracted.

Scheduling my work in blocks and making time to review my tasks helps me work efficiently and keep any underlying stress away.

2. Stop and smell the roses

People are always in a hurry these days. So many people miss out on life because the pull to hurry up and get there is very strong. I've felt that pull. I understand it. But I don't let it control me anymore.

I've learned to allow for time to stop and smell the roses as much as humanly possible, because time is something we can never get back. Just the other day, the kids and I found a beautiful praying mantis in our roses when we stopped to see which were the most fragrant. We spent 30 minutes holding it, admiring it and talking about the beauty of nature. We connected and remained in the moment, and it was truly beautiful.

3, Embrace imperfection

Making peace with imperfection is one of those things that is much easier to say than to actually do. It's one thing to accept it and admit that no one is perfect, but sometimes mistakes weigh us down. Sometimes the "what if's" keep us up at night, because we know that there could have been a different outcome.

Just the other day I was fretting over a few minor mistakes in an article that was quickly shared over and over again. I couldn't see the compliment within the shares, because the mistakes jumped off the page. When I finally admitted this to my husband, he smiled and mused, "So it's safe to assume that the people reading the article are moved by the writing and not terribly concerned about the typos?"

With that, I let go.

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Embrace the mistakes you make. Live a messy life. Be willing to fail and take risks. Live out loud. You will never regret a life well lived, but you will regret time wasted on distraction.

Distraction comes in many forms, but it can be mediated by choosing to change your habits. And the best news is that it's never too late to begin.

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Photograph by: Katie Hurley

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