In respect of programmers:
But what exactly do ten-xers do to be so productive? It is not as though they write more lines of software per day. What little evidence there is suggests that, over any given period, all experienced programmers—good, bad or indifferent—tend to produce much the same amount of code.
The big difference is that the best coders keep more of what they have produced, while the worst constantly have to rework whole sections. The high-achievers also make each line of code achieve more. And they know how to avoid writing unnecessary code—by editing routines they have written in the past to accomplish similar things.
More here. Another way of putting this is something a cousin of mine once said: “I don’t really care about working hard. I want to work smart.”
Work” in this case has very little to do with programming and very much to do with intangible related skills: prioritization, communication, adapting work already done. Universally useful skills, too.