When you say that you putter around, what you mean is that you spend your time doing little things which aren’t really important. In other words, you don’t do anything useful.
When you putter around, you work in a leisurely fashion. The important thing is, you really enjoy yourself.
Example: “I wanted to prepare for the exams during the holidays. But I ended up puttering around the garden.”
It’s also possible to say ‘putter about’.
For example, the children puttered about the garden all day.
The expression ‘putter about’ is mostly used in American English. The British, on the other hand, say ‘potter about’. They both mean the same thing.
Example: “My grandmother gets up at 4 A.M, and potters about till 6:00. She has her bath then.”
Source: “The Hindu” – Know Your English Column – Jan 15, 2008