6 Things You Should Be Able To Do Without Your iPhone


A new study gives good incentive for putting your device down. (Photo: Getty Images)

Are you a slave to the beep? Stepping away from your device may be easier said than done: Cellphone separation is linked to anxiety and poor cognitive performance, according to a new University of Missouri study.

Researchers found that when iPhone users weren’t allowed to answer a ringing phone, their heart rates and blood pressure levels surged and they felt more anxiety and overall unpleasantness. They also performed worse on word search puzzles after their phones were taken away vs. when they were near.

"Our findings suggest that iPhone separation can negatively impact performance on mental tasks," Russell Clayton, a doctoral candidate at the University of Missouri School of Journalism and lead author of the study, said in a press release.

But we say that there are certain things you should simply be able to do without your smartphone. Here, six of them.

1. Your job

Surveys have suggested that somewhere around 80 percent of people check their email outside of work. (We suspect it’s closer to 100 percent.) But answering your boss at 10 p.m. may not make you a stellar employee. “Telepressure,” or the urge to answer work emails ASAP, could actually make you worse at your job. A 2014 study in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology found that the more people fixated on answering work emails on the go after hours, the more likely they were to feel burnout, sleep poorly, lack focus, and even miss work. Some companies—and even countries—have even considered banning post-work emails to help with productivity and rejuvenation.

2. Eat out

“Too many people instinctually just dump their smartphone on the table when meeting someone for a meal. It’s like a guest whose only role is to interrupt everyone,” says Daniel Sieberg, author of The Digital Diet: The 4-step plan to break your tech addiction and regain balance in your life. Plus, the mere presence of a phone on the table can lower the quality of conversations, research shows. “Keep your smartphone in your pocket or purse and if you must have it out for an urgent call or message, then let the person/people with you know why,” Sieberg suggests. Another trick: the phone stack. “Everyone puts their phone in the middle of the table and the first one to grabs theirs pays the bill.”

3. Drive from point A to point B

The majority of us may rely on GPS, but here’s a case for giving the Google Maps app a rest: According to a well-cited British study, learning 25,000 streets and thousands of landmarks leads the brains of London cab drivers to undergo structural changes that improve memory, and creates more nerve cells in a brain area called the hippocampus.

4. Walk 

Two in five teens have been hit —or nearly hit— by a car or bike while walking, according to a recent report that determined most of those incidents involved people using mobile devices. And sure, this epidemic may be worse in cities like New York, where distracted pedestrians play bumper cars on the sidewalk, but many of us are guilty just checking our phones while walking into the grocery store or down the street, notes Sieberg. “Look look around and engage with your surroundings. It may be a way to discover a new café or appreciate nature. It’s also an opportunity to be alone and channel your own thoughts instead of bombarded by stimulus,” says Sieberg.

5. Spend time with your kids

“Every parent knows the tug of a smartphone can be a tough one to ignore when playing with small children. Whether at a playground or walking to school with them, it’s too easy to check out of the moment and thumb through your screen,” says Sieberg. Plus, studies have shown that parents who are glued to their devices report more negative interactions with their kids. Resist the urge: That quality time that is special — and children learn from the behavior around them. “If you worry about your kids always on their devices then maybe it’s time to look in the mirror,” reminds Sieberg.

6. Sleep

“Charging smartphones in the bedroom is a perfect recipe for reduced sleep, added anxiety, and minimal intimacy,” says Sieberg. Banning cellphones should be the new “no TV in the bedroom” rule. “Without giving ourselves a break at the start and end of the day, we’re constantly swept away by being connected and unable to let our brain recharge,” he adds. Plus, research confirms that a smartphone screen may actually disrupt our circadian rhythms — worsening productivity and sleep quality, says Sieberg. “Do yourself (and your spouse) a favor and charge it anywhere else.”