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To Sam

Attention spam + motivation

Hey Sam,

so i'm in sixth form now and I have a lot of work to do and doing well in my alevels is really important to me. I've been finding it really difficult to concentrate on work however and I usually don't start working until 10pm every school night which is exhausting. I also can't study for a test until it's the day before otherwise I just can't make myself do it. My attention span is soo short and I get bored within literally 5minutes. I used to be really efficient so I don't know why I just can't work anymore. Any tips?


Ask Sam


Hi there,

Finding it hard to concentrate can be frustrating and you might feel demotivated if you’re not getting your work done. Exam stress, being tired and leaving things until the last minute can all make it harder to feel positive about studying.

Lots of people worry about things that are important to them. Small amounts of stress can motivate you to achieve your goals, but too much stress or worrying a lot can have the opposite effect and leave you feeling helpless or overwhelmed. It’s easier to learn when you’re feeling relaxed and confident so make sure you find time to do things that you enjoy and that help you to feel calm.

There are lots of things that can help you to stay focused on your work and taking regular breaks often helps when your mind wanders. Not all study time needs to be sitting at a desk. Try recording yourself reading the text you’re studying and you can play it back when you’re doing other everyday things.

The space you do your work in is really important too. If you’re doing it at home, there are lots of things that can distract you and this makes focussing on work hard. Try to do your work in the school library straight after school – you’ll be less distracted and it means once you’re home, you can relax and your time is all your own. If your thoughts are stopping you focusing then instead of thinking about them immediately, write down what’s on your mind. Give yourself 15 minutes at the end of your study time to look at your list and follow up on anything that needs doing.

It can also help to make studying a challenge – try to set a goal and reward yourself for reaching it. Try and push yourself to break your own records for words written or pages read – and be realistic about what you can do. If you can, try to set a goal that’s hard, but achievable. It’s important not to aim too high or you might feel worse if you don’t make it.

You could share your ideas and get support by posting on the message boards and our counsellors are here to support you too. And if these suggestions aren’t working or you need additional support you can speak to your teacher, tutor or your doctor.

Take care and thank you for writing to me.


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