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Work from home? 5 essential tips

(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY For better or worse, the internet makes it easy for you to work from home in your pajamas, torn jeans, or for some people living here in the Santa Cruz Mountains, nothing at all.

Whether it's the crappy job market, the entrepreneurial lure, telecommuting, or working 24/7 in a demanding job, more and more of us spend a good part of our days looking a lot like homeless people.

Today, I'm avoiding mirrors because I don't want them to shatter. Tomorrow, I'll get myself all cleaned up and brave that section of the closet where dust has accumulated on everything. That's right; it's time to actually visit some clients.

Ah, the life of a modern day Silicon Valley consultant.

I bet the potential new customer I met with yesterday is reading this and thinking, what's he talking about? He looked fine. I know, I clean up nice and that's all that matters. Still, it's a good thing she didn't see me a few hours earlier. That's all I'm saying.

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Anyway, just in case you have bills to pay and can't afford to lose whatever gig you've got, here are five tips to keep in mind when it's time to actually show your face in public. I can't honestly say I follow them religiously, but as my mother used to say, "don't do as I do, do as I say."

Grubby is cool in Hollywood, not at work. When I first started consulting I had lunch with my former CEO. His first words were, "You look like a rock star." No, he didn't mean that as a compliment.

Get ALL the dust. Dust accumulates everywhere in your closet, on the shoulders of jackets and shirts, on shoes, even on belts. You don't have to do anything special; just give everything a good buff with your underwear. Before you put them on, dummy.

Try showering -- you won't melt. Now that you've gotten into this mode of showering every other day (the dogs and cats don't complain; they like stinky things), just so you know, that sort of thing doesn't wash in the office. If you're in an elevator and it tilts because everyone but you has crowded into one side, you may have forgotten to do something.

Clothes do go out of style, you know. Every five years or so it's a good idea to visit Nordstrom and take a good hard look at what real working people wear every day. You don't have to buy a lot of stuff, but you shouldn't look like you came out of a retro black and white photo, either.

There's a place called Walgreens -- check it out. I could be wrong, but I think there are only three pharmacies left in America: CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid. Google them, find the one nearest you so your Chevy Volt will make the trip, and go there twice a year whether you need to or not. If you don't remember what soap, shampoo and deodorant look like, just ask the store clerk. The Walgreens people don't even flinch.

Well, I think that's about it. Wait, I almost forgot. If you've had nine cups of coffee and are heading out for an afternoon meeting, you might want to brush your teeth first. Better keep some Altoids on you too, just in case.

Image courtesy of Flickr user L Gnome

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