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In a number of application domains, the volatility of the environment where Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) should operate engenders time constraints on the generation, processing, and communication of sensory data. In this paper, we investigate the use of network coding and service reneging for the timely delivery of messages between wireless sensor nodes that utilize the IEEE 802.15.4 MAC/PHY standard. More specifically, we study the real-time performance of algebraic coding and traffic regulation under different traffic loads and for different timeliness requirements. Our simulation results indicate that both techniques can be on their own effective measures to improve on-time delivery of messages in overload conditions. An additional gain in performance is obtained when coding is carefully coupled with a traffic regulation based on proactive cleaning of transmission queues.