The Groucho Marx Procrastinator

You are a Groucho Marx procrastinator

When performing an academic task, you seem to suffer most from procrastination caused by perfectionism. This doesn’t mean that perfectionism is the only reason you procrastinate; however, perfectionism seems to be the foremost reason you block yourself from getting your task done.

The Groucho Marx Syndrome is the result of internalized perfectionism in the way you position yourself in relation to your peers, such as your fellow students. Groucho Marx, a comedian who was very critical of his own performance, is said to have remarked that he would never join a club that would have him as a member, meaning that he was never able to live up to his own standards – and anyone who thought otherwise must be wrong. Like him, you suffer from unreasonable expectations of your own performance, but you think that your peers are structurally underperforming. When you’re honest with yourself, you consider yourself to be smarter than the rest. Overall, you are used to actively acquiring knowledge, and you have a high self-esteem.

You are likely a student

  • who would never ask for help from professors or tutors;
  • whose speech is lined with backtracking and regret; you often use words like ‘could have’, ‘should have’, etc.

Others like you said:

  • “I know that I should do a better job, because I know that I can.”
  • “The teacher thinks I’m so smart – and I need to live up to that expectation.”
  • “Any tiny mistake is a disaster and will make me the laughing stock of the teachers’ room.”
  • “Performing subpar is simply unacceptable.”
  • “I can’t hand it in, because I know there are mistakes in my work.”
  • “To pass my exam, I need to be in perfect command of the subject – hence, the task of studying for an exam is so daunting that I don’t even know where to start.”


  • DO ask for feedback, and acknowledge the positive reactions to your work.
  • DO hand assignments in before the deadline – if you do not, you will keep working on it because you keep raising the bar for yourself
  • DO acknowledge that perfection is not expected – perfection is something you may strive for, but right now is a good time to learn from your mistakes. Ask your professor what her or his own mistakes were and how they resolved them – this will put things in perspective!
  • DO understand that this is only an exam / a paper – it’s not the only chance in history to find a solution for world hunger, but only one exam or paper, and one can usually emend a paper after feedback or retake an exam when one fails.
  • DO ask your professor for hard deadlines – or better still, make your own deadlines and ask the professor to keep them for you.

  • DON’T perform in a group of peers – this will cause conflict because you feel you can’t showcase your performance.

  • DON’T be too jovial with your professor – you need distance, or else you may think that you will personally hurt her or him when you hand in something which you consider subpar.
  • DON’T take too much liberty with your assignments: you will solve world hunger, if you are not restricted to a clear task. (Which you are of course free to do AFTER you graduate!)
  • DON’T be too proud to ask for help on time to help you reduce stress and procrastination. This will help you perform!