Inspirational Quote for ADHD–Thomas A. Edison

I didn’t get to post a quote on Sunday because I was too busy celebrating the one-month miracle. But I found a quote that I really liked so I wanted to share.

Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.

–Thomas A. Edison

One of the things that I find to be true of myself is that the little time that I spend actually working, I am working hard. It’s usually on something that I have premeditated, planned on accomplishing, and want very much. For me, it has to have those components in order to bypass the distracted tendencies of my mind. So, even though getting a graduate degree for me could be viewed as the totality of a smattering of intense study-sessions and panicked projects that occurred at the perimeters of the class-periods when things were due (as opposed to a consistent, staid, gradual progression of reading, application, and accomplishment), those moments were absolutely germane to my endgame, and achieved the same aim.

Sometimes I feel that my productivity doesn’t “count” as much because of a lack of consistency–like that maybe the haphazard nature of my productivity makes the end result as splotchy as my productivity feels. But I think this quote gives hope–it is saying that the thing that matters is the actual work. Busyness is busyness. But accomplishment is application of skills to a specific aim until that aim is achieved, no matter when or how (or just how inconsistently) that application is executed.


  1. This is funny. In some ways I think I match the general characteristics of ADHD-I, if not the clinical definition, but my work habits are sort of the opposite of what you describe. I can't do the procrastination –> sustained hard work thing. Just plain CANNOT. If I work for three hours solid, I am exhausted and have to sleep afterwards–all-nighters or the like are simply not an option. Instead, I drag everything out, working in <15-minute bursts interspersed with distractions of about the same length. (Sometimes this is an exaggeration, sometimes not.) I wonder if there is some other "mental parameter" that accounts for this.

  2. Ah, how I can relate. Amazing what medication can do eh? I worked about half as hard in college after I started meds and accomplished at least 250% more. Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

  3. I know this is an old post, but I just discovered your blog – and I've also just been diagnosed with ADHD-I myself.
    I'm a college student with pretty much no idea how I even made it through a full-IB program to even GET to college, specifically because my study habits were identical to what you described. Inconsistent, working in the cracks, writing essays during the lunch period before they were due, and generally not very much time spent actually working.
    It took until college and failing a few classes due to poor organization more than anything else for me to realize my ADHD-I. I'm still learning how to live with it and I'm not on medication yet. It was a discouraging road in high school – I thought I was just lazy and I didn't think there was anyone else like me. I honestly didn't know how I'd made it through – I thought it was a combination of intelligence and dumb luck. I've been looking for answers though, and this post is SO encouraging to me! It lets me know that I'm NOT the only one who works that way. Thank you for addressing this issue, especially from the adult perspective. It's remarkably surprising how many mental health professionals or doctors tend to treat ADHD as a "childhood disorder" that is grown out of, or tend to diagnose it only from the hyperactivity standpoint (which was never one of my major symptoms). I really appreciate your treatment of this issue, and these quotes are incredibly inspiring to me too. Thank you.

  4. It's ironic that I stumbled across this blog when I am in fact "grading papers" or at least that was my plan. Amazing blog. Thank you for your honesty, it is so refreshing!

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