The definition of puttering

February 18, 2016

Written By

Tabitha Dumas

I’m going to start defining some of my favorite words and concepts for you and this one is up first.

There’s an art to puttering and it’s one of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday.

I want to give you the definition of puttering.

So what does it mean to putter?

putter [puht-er]

1. to busy or occupy oneself in a leisurely, casual, or ineffective manner:
to putter in the garden.
2. to move or go in a specified manner with ineffective action or little energy or purpose:
to putter about the house on a rainy day.
3. to move or go slowly or aimlessly; loiter.

4. puttering or ineffective action; dawdling.

Puttering is the art of passing time staying “busy” but without a set agenda.

It’s perfect for people like me who can’t just SIT and who like to get things done, but that need downtime.

Here are the things I did while puttering last weekend:

  • gave myself a pedicure and painted my toenails pink
  • put away the red books in my entryway and swapped them for green books, and added my favorite St. Patrick’s Day cup and saucer
  • flipped through magazines
  • straightened up the top of my dresser
  • helped my kids plant some flower seeds
  • chatted with my hubby while he did yard work
  • made up a pitcher of lemonade
  • went through the paperwork and mail lying around
  • hand washed/line dried my bras

Other times, I will tidy up my favorite chair and table, sort through my jewelry, clean off my desk, wash my makeup brushes, put away the decorative Easter eggs that are still out, rearrange my sideboards…just little projects that take a few moments each but that clear the clutter and keep things organized and looking pretty.

Puttering isn’t about marking items off your to-do list.

I can’t just sit and watch Netflix all day, or lounge around in bed–I have to DO something, but these somethings are fun and easy.

What’s the point of puttering? 

The thing about puttering is it has to be almost brainless or it’s too much like “chores” or “work.”

Puttering is meant to be relaxing AND stimulating.

I’ll warn you: some of your best ideas will strike while you’re puttering!

It’s like when you get lost in an art project or a good book. You lose track of time. It’s great for your brain and can even help you think of creative solutions to those problems lingering in the back of your mind.

Who needs to putter? 

  • Those who can’t stomach the idea of taking a day off to do nothing
  • People who live by their to-do list
  • Women who need some “me time”

Try it for an hour or two soon and let me know what you think!

Check out more ideas on my Puttering Pinterest board.



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