My method is to spend 10 minutes more with each progressively finer grit. When you get to 2000 grit you should spend about twice the time you spent with your first grit.
When buffing I start with Meguier's medium cut cleaner to get rid of any sanding scratches. If that isn't abrasive enough I will use Turtle wax rubbing compound which is even more abrasive, but its usually not needed. After the first buff I change pads and use Meguiers Fine cut cleaner to bring out the deep gloss.
I'm going to get a buffing station sooner or later, but for now I use my poor mans buffing set up, which is a bench top drill press set to about 1100 rpm with a wool pad in the chuck. This set up works very well, especially for buffing out a neck. Its much easier to hold on to your work piece than it is to try and buff it out with a buffing machine, with the piece on a bench.