Here are a few things I've started internalizing for carving that have made life easier for me.
Take thinner shavings! Even for roughing cuts you can actually remove material faster with less effort by taking more thinner shavings. This also has a nice side effect of not beating up your edge as badly. You can get away with thicker shavings in some places (deep gouge, cutting downhill, co-operative wood) but generally if in doubt take two (or six) where one would do.
Light mallet taps can get you a clean cut when pushing won't. Even with a super sharp chisel on the same wood. I don't fully understand this but I think it has something to do with how quickly the edge moves (the mallet tap advances the cut rapidly). Sort of like turning up the speed on your router to get a cleaner cut (and take thinner shavings).
Use cutting tools. Saws and drills in particular. If you can saw a piece of material away or remove it with a drill you'll save a bunch of time compared to doing chisel work.
Rough most of the work and work the fine details so you can keep as much support around them as long as possible.
Don't cut all the way to the background and be careful of overcutting on the roughing pass. Its easy to drive the chisel in a bit to far and leave a mark that will require a re-design to get out. This is especially true around shape transitions. I've taken to leaving some of those a bit round until the finish cut and then crisping up the detail at the very end.
Conversely don't be afraid to aggressively remove material. Part of this is being able to "see" what the piece will look like before you start cutting on it, I don't know of any easy shortcuts there. Models help some as do drawings and sketches on the piece itself but the best answer seems to be experience. Over cutting a few pieces is actually a valuable way to figure out how much you should have left. I know I still tend to be a bit timid (you can always remove more material..) but that also can easily leave you in a bit of a trap where you keep doing more "finish" cuts because you didn't just rough the piece out far enough to start with.
Anyone else have more thoughts on any of these or others similar thoughts? Feel free to disagree, this is largely self taught and I'm not saying its right just that they seem to be a general drift towards what seems to be working better.