In my experience it means more than just "It's now or never"
The person who says this idiom probably has had this problem for some time. He has postponed the decision to the last minute. He may succeed or he may fail as the outcome of his action is probably uncertain. He has finally sucked up his courage as he realizes that he must do something. So, perhaps against his better judgment, he is going to do something risky since he risks losing more by doing nothing.
Crunch time refers to the period of time immediately before a project (or other timetabled item) is due to be done. It is typical for crunch time to occur between the next-to-last scheduled milestone and the final project completion date. Then, its projected completion timeline is either a miss, or a hit.
In basketball, the term crunch time is applied to the last few minutes of play in the fourth quarter. Here, both teams gear up to secure the game with fierce play, effectively ending the endurance match of the first, second and third quarters. The term was invented in New Zealand in 1984 as a combination of the two phrases show-time and when it comes to the crunch
First, a disclaimer: If Wikipedia told me that my name was Stuart, that 2+2=4, or that the Earth was an oblate spheroid which orbited the Sun approximately once every 365.24 days, I would triple check the information with more reliable and trustworthy sources, including my cat and my neighbour's dog.
That said, I was surprised and embarrassed to hear that the phrase originated here. Surprised and embarrassed because I ought to have realised that from its frequency. The phrase is heard here VERY often, almost as often in fact as Wikipedia is caught providing either deliberate or unintentional misformation.
Exactly. It means your time is almost up. The deadline is upon you. There's no time to waste. You have to act NOW. "Have to make an important decision" is the poll's best choice, but crunch time isn't necessarily about a decision. It's about action. Related expressions: