In one of my campaigns, I wanted to tell a story about the players hunting down a particular villain. I didn't want this game to last more than about 8 months of real-time and I didn't want to spend a year of in-game time that didn't connect to the overarching storyline. So what did I do?
Check out our newest book - Human NPC's: 84 Complete NPC's for 5th edition to use in your RPG in minutes: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08TCKRZTM/
Check out our first book - 19 RPG Adventures for Game Masters to Run in any TTRPG: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08NQ38H2K
Since we were playing GURPS I gave them 30 points to spend on whatever they wanted and told them that we would be fast-forwarding the game a full year in the calendar. They had done side quests and other things in that year that didn't correspond to the story, but they would still get experience for it.
I could do the same thing in a D&D or Pathfinder game by giving 2 - 3 levels and saying the same thing.
Listen to the episode for even more examples of how to accomplish this.