Beating ItUse a mixer to beat butter until softened, about 3-5 minutes.
Cut It UpCut sticks of butter into cubes to soften in 20-30 minutes.
GratingGrating butter is a quick way to soften it. It takes 5-10 minutes to soften butter using a grater.
Pounding It OutFlatten butter between two sheets of parchment paper using a rolling pin. In just 3-5 minutes, your butter will be softened.
Room TemperaturePlace a stick of butter on the counter for 30-60 minutes until it's just soft enough to place a fingerprint into.
Reviews & Tips
It's easy to use the microwave setting to soften, but results vary depending on whether or not butter is in stick or cut up. I've used (and prefer) several of the methods you've listed, but forget about them in view of the microwave shortcut, so thanks for the reminder.