Two ways we can talk about our past actions are the simple past and past progressive. Let's look at the differences between these two forms and how we use them in conversation.
The simple past is usually used to talk about something that we did before. For example:
◆ I attended a conference last week.
◆ I took some medicine for my headache.
◆ I bought a new computer yesterday.
The past progressive shows that an action continued. We often include the time or duration. For example:
◆ My friends and I were playing baseball all afternoon.
◆ I was working on my report until 3 a.m.
◆ It was raining all day yesterday.
The simple past is also used to talk about past actions that happened one after another.
◆ I got home, watched TV, ate dinner and went to bed.
(= I got home → watched TV → ate dinner → went to bed)
◆ I woke up, took a shower and brushed my teeth.
(= I woke up → took a shower → brushed my teeth)
The past progressive is often used to show that two or more actions were happening at the same time.
◆ I was watching TV, eating dinner and surfing the internet. (At the same time)
◆ He was riding his bike and using his smartphone. (At the same time)