There is this spot on my counter where I leave my butter to warm when I have it intended for a baking project. But sometimes (many times) I will have an itch to bake something without previous planning. The trouble with that is that my butter is cold. Can you cream cold butter? No. In fact, I actually broke a beater blade on cold butter.
So what is a gal to do? Take the stick of butter straight from the fridge and put it into the microwave for give or take 12 seconds. You may need a little trial and error to get exactly the right amount of time for your particular microwave. Start with just 5 seconds, squeeze, and go from there. Softens the butter without melting it. Perfect.
Read here for why we soften butter for our recipes.
This method also seems interesting, but a little more labor intensive than just putting a stick of butter in the microwave.