If your house is a disaster zone of loose papers, forgotten instruction manuals and discarded Lego bricks, don’t despair – a few small steps can make a huge difference. Here are five, five-minute methods to clear the clutter…

01. Create an in tray

Whether you put it in your kitchen, in your home office or even by your front door, the simple act of creating an inbox could be a serious game changer, given how much of our day-to-day clutter comes from paperwork. The trick here is to be strict with yourself – once you’ve got your inbox, you cannot put paper down anywhere else. Mail from school? Put it in the inbox. Purchase come with a guarantee? Put it in the inbox until you have time to file it. Simple but effective.

02. Clear one counter

While your ultimate aim is to ensure that every flat surface in your home is free of clutter, that can be a daunting prospect. The solution? Start with one surface. Whether it’s a kitchen counter or the top of your dressing table, choose your surface and clear away anything non-essential. Decorative perfume bottle, candle or vase? Fine. Receipts, chewing gum packets, 87 half-used lip balms? No.

03. Clear out a drawer

Take one drawer out and empty it on a table, then organise the contents into three piles: stuff that really should go in the drawer; stuff that belongs elsewhere; stuff to get rid of. Clean the drawer out, then put the stuff in the first pile back in neatly. Deal with the other piles immediately.

04. Create a clear zone

The key to creating a tidy home is to start with one clutter-free zone. Whether it’s the breakfast bar, a corner of the play room or the three-metre perimeter around your coffee table, it doesn’t matter, as long as you clear it up and ensure that everyone in the house understands its designation. From now on, nothing goes in that area if it’s not in use. Once you’ve gotten used to keeping it clear, start gradually expanding the zone until it takes up a whole room, and then the rest of the house.

05. Pick up five things and find homes for them

Select some items that you do actually use, but then put down just anywhere because they don’t have a designated place. Take a minute to consider what a good, appropriate spot for each would be, put them there, then always put those things in those spots when you’re done using them. Do this for a few things at a time and you’ll be amazed how quickly it makes a difference.