For a baker ready to bake, waiting for butter to soften is like watching paint dry.
In fact, when we were kids my sister and I were home for the summer and my mother agreed to bake something the first thing we would do is go get the butter out of the refrigerator. And then we played the waiting game until it was softened.
In fact most baking recipes called for room temperature or softened butter. What's a working girl to do? We don't have time or the space on our to do list to plan these things out ahead of time. It takes everything I have to make sure my pantry is stocked.
So I developed an easy way to soften but not melt butter in the microwave. You take a stick of butter and put it in the microwave. And put it on 8 seconds. Then turn the stick of butter on the next side. Another 8 seconds. Continue to do this until you have done it on all sides. Depending on the microwave you might have to do 5 sides before its perfectly softened.
It may take up to 40 seconds but its better than a couple of hours.
Take that extra time to make out the rest of your to do list...And maybe an extra cup of coffee.