How to quickly soften butter (without melting it)

Stack of softened butter on a red checked cloth
 
Stack of softened butter on a red checked cloth
 
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.  Softened butter should give when you press it but not smush.
 
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.

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Happy Baking!