I have used tickler files for over 20 years and have found them to be the most efficient tool I know for getting paper out of my life and making sure it stares me in the face exactly on the day I need it.
I have found it particularly helpful in "batching" work. For example, in the December file there is a list of everyone to whom I send a birthday card each year, complete with address and birthday. When this pops up in December, I go to a discount card shop and buy for everyone on the list. At one sitting, I sign and seal the cards, address the envelopes, put return address stickers on all of the envelopes. On the spot where the stamp is going to go, I pencil the date the card needs to go in the mail. Then, I sort the whole stack into the appropriate tickler files and forget about borthday cards for a year. The cards appear when they need to go in the mail without my doing a thing.
The idea of one "holding" folder had been mentioned. I used that successfully in high school and undergraduate years in college. I would write the appropriate tickler date on a scrap of paper and paper clip it to any papers needed on that date. The papers were chronological, so the daily routine was to open the folder and look at what was on the very top.