If the speaker perceives that both activities will take or took more or less the same amount of time, you can use either the simple present or past, or you can use the present or past progressive, Izzy. Take your pick!

  • While I make lunch, please call the bank about our loan application.
  • While I'm making lunch, please call the bank about our loan application.

  • Finally, I again thank my family for their patience and support while I worked on this book.
  • Finally, I again thank my family for their patience and support while I was working on this book.

    If, however, one short past action happened during the time that a longer action took place, it's more common to use while together with the longer action and put the verb in the past progressive:

    She was attacked by a shark while she was swimming near the boat.
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