v. To surreptitiously perform a task in the background while one's attention is supposed to be on another task.
Backgrounding: doing one primary thing while some other things are going on in the background. Listening to music and reading a book. Listening to a podcast and perusing the news. These generally use different parts of the brain and one can argue whether the primary task suffers or not.
—Jack Vinson, “When is multitasking not multitasking,” Knowledge Jolt With Jack, October 21, 2009
backgrounding verb The practice of not giving someone your full attention while multitasking.
—Tim Nelson, “Millennium speak,” Saint Paul Pioneer Press, February 18, 1999
1999 (earliest)
Ever rung a colleague or client and found that the only response your questions are soliciting is the occasional "Hmmm"? You've just been "backgrounded"! To background someone is to deny them your full attention while multi-tasking.
—“News,” The Guardian, February 13, 1999
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