A writing project requires time for reading and research, as well as time to engage with the material and review and revise initial drafts. Whether writing a 5- or a 15-page essay, you can successfully manage the task by following a workable timeline. Approaching an essay project with a realistic plan of action enables you to present your best work.

Step 1

Divide your essay project into three distinct assignments: reading the material, researching the material and writing your essay. Ideally, you should schedule at least a week for each assignment. If you don't have that liberty, divide your available time into thirds and aim for completing one assignment per time interval.

Step 2

List tasks associated with the reading assignment. Plan to write response paragraphs daily as you read, as this will help generate ideas that may prove useful during the final writing process. Allocate time for a second reading, if possible.

Step 3

Break the research phase down into three sections: generating ideas about the text, researching those ideas and writing at least five brief paragraphs that engage those ideas. Divide your research time into thirds to accommodate these mini-assignments. Initial brainstorming in this phase should help you find an interesting angle from which to approach the text for your essay. The prewriting, according to Purdue University's Online Writing Lab, "will allow you to be more productive and organized when you sit down to write" your essay.

Step 4

Allocate time in your writing phase for generating an outline and first draft, writing an introduction paragraph (which is often best addressed once you have all your ideas on paper) and for revisions. The largest allocation of time here should be dedicated to the first draft. However, be sure to allow yourself time to incorporate smooth transitions, check for grammar and spelling mistakes, cite your sources and strengthen your introduction prior to the deadline.

Step 5

Write or type your timeline, listing specific completion dates for each section of each of your three assignments. Using dates in your timeline will keep you accountable and give you specific smaller goals to help you meet your essay deadline.