Dear Dr. Wallace:

I invited a guy to attend a dance. I bought the tickets. After the function was over, we went out to eat. I offered to pay the tab, but he asked if he could pay, so I backed down and let him. I was under the impression that the person who initiates a date should be the one to pay. Am I confused?

— Modern Girl,

via email

Dear Modern Girl: Etiquette dictates that when a boy asks a girl to go out, the boy pays for everything. When a girl asks a boy to go out, she is expected to pay for everything. But if the boy insists on paying, the girl gracefully accepts his generosity with a smile and says, “thank you”!

Dear Dr. Wallace: I have a very difficult time concentrating. I understand from some testing I completed that I have an above-average IQ, but my grades in school are not superior. Sometimes I spend two hours reading a lesson when it should actually take me only about a half-hour. My mind wanders from my girlfriend to food I like and back. I only get slightly above-average grades, but I truly feel that if I could concentrate properly, I would be an honor student.

I plan to attend college after high school, and my goal is to work as a criminal attorney. But I know I’ll never make it if I don’t get my act together. Any suggestions you may have for me would be appreciated.

— Wandering Mind,

New York

Dear Wandering Mind: All of us lose our concentration and lapse into daydreaming from time to time. The key is to snap back relatively quickly so that we don’t let our thinking drift aimlessly for hours. The following tips should help. They have been a boon to me on many an occasion. I’m an occasional daydreamer, too.

• Create the right environment and mood. Don’t try to work immediately following strong emotion, such as anger, because you’ll have trouble focusing your attention. Calm yourself down. If you’re listening to music, play it softly. Make sure you don’t have too much or too little light, because either extreme can cause strain or fatigue. The room should be well ventilated and slightly on the cool side.

• Budget time for your work. Working under pressure at the last minute can lead to fatigue. Schedule a regular time and place for work and then stick to this routine.

• Structure your work period. Work in 30-minute blocks, taking a five- or 10-minute break in between. Allocate the amount of time you want to spend on each task, and work only up to your allotted time.

• Stay physically fit. Getting enough sleep and exercise will help you to be mentally alert. A good time to work is right after light exercise, such as a brisk walk or a short bicycle ride.

• Eat properly. Both overeating and hunger can impair concentration.

Eating foods rich in complex carbohydrates, like whole wheat bread, is good for long-lasting energy.

Avoid sugar-laden foods since they’ll only give you a short burst of energy, followed by a letdown.

Write to Dr. Wallace at rwallace@galesburg.net.