A study plan, either for one project or for a long-term exploration of a discipline or subject, begins with a short, clearly thought-out and carefully worded goal, expressed in an introductory paragraph. So the first step is to solidify your idea, by discussion, “test drilling” in library and other sources, and trial wording of your goal. Second, define your workspace (not the physical location), but the methods you will use to store and order your gathered discoveries – file cards, notebook, computer files, tape recorder or all those things. Third, list your sources for information, libraries, professionals, etc. Fourthly, divide your study plan into workable sections, preferably into small enough pieces to accomplish them in a brief time. At the same time, taxonomize them in some viable arrangement, with the larger sections as main headings, and smaller sections under the appropriate heading.
Once you have organized your study plan in this way, look at your time limitations – is this an assignment due on a certain date, or a semester-long study, or a summer project, or a life-work? As part of this step, look at your daily and weekly schedules realistically, and gauge how many hours you can devote to this study. Then look ahead and give yourself some flexible but challenging deadlines to get sections finished.
One final very useful step in the planning stage is to compose a list of questions you eventually hope to answer as you proceed; if feasible, spread these questions across your calendar as temporary sub-goals. The last part of this step can be a paragraph of “conclusions” with lots and lots of gaps to be filled in as you discover things about your subject.
This method of study planning has worked for many scholars and authors through the years. Good luck!