Once upon a time, my desire to build a useful mastery and career made me neglect my family, and more precisely my little brothers. Not dramatically, but whenever we were together, I was too stuck up with my own issues to act like a good old brother, or even to interact correctly with them. At some point, I realized that giving time and attention to my family was also important to me, and thus that I could not simply allocate all my mental time and energy to “useful” things.
This happened before I discovered EA, and is not explicitly about the EA community, but that’s what popped into my mind when reading to this great post. In a sense, I refused to do illegible work (being a good brother, friend and son) because I considered it worthless in comparison with my legible aspirations.
Beyond becoming utility monster, I think what you are pointing out is that optimizing what we can measure, even with caveat, yields a negligence of small things that matters a lot. And I agree that this issue is probably tractable, because the illegible but necessary tasks themselves tend to be small, not too much of a burden. If one wants to allocate their career to it, great. But everyone can contribute in the ways you point out. Just a bit every day. Like calling your mom from time to time.
That is to say, just like you don’t have to have an EA job to be an effective altruist, you don’t have to dedicate all your life to illegible work to contribute some.